Why Do We Do It?

Dear Sue Ellen,

Every year I have a huge Thanksgiving meal for my entire family. I go all out. Every year we eat too much and end up at each other’s throats. It is this way every year, so I have cancelled Thanksgiving at my house. Honestly, I am relieved, but now the whole family is mad at me and my kids are asking me why. I know what Thanksgiving is supposed to be, but it never turns out that way for my family, so why do we do it?

– K C


Dear K C,

Did you know that during the holidays more people allegedly commit suicide and there are more domestic violence incidents than any other time of the year? I believe in family traditions as long as they serve the purpose they were intended for. As parents, we tend to forget that our children are absorbing everything that is going on around them; even the things we think we are shielding them from. Why do we try to shield our kids from things? The easy answer is for their protection, but the more truthful answer is we don’t want to explain awkward or difficult things to them if it makes us, or somebody else, look bad.

One of my most favorite Thanksgivings was a day when I had three of my granddaughters, all under the age of 10 with me. My husband had to work and their parents out of town. The girls set the table, and we had a very simple meal. The table was decorated with sea shells and river rocks. We had a red checkered table cloth and paper towels for napkins. We ate sausage and rice. We all shared what we were thankful for and had the best time.

We are too hard on ourselves if we are stressed when we try to measure up to the social standards of what the traditional Thanksgiving should be. What is wrong with making your own family traditions? My son-in-law loves to go hunting Thanksgiving weekend. They have a fabulous meal, usually on paper plates. What’s wrong with that?

I hope you and your family have your best Thanksgiving ever and make new traditions that you can look forward to and not dread every year. Make it whatever you would really like for it to be. We live in a wonderful, blessed country. That in and of itself is reason to be happy on Thanksgiving without all the fuss.


– Sue Ellen