Thursday, November 10, 2011

When The Same Old, Same Old is Just What You Need.

Today, I will be sharing the second part of a mini-series of guest posts from women who have transformed the way that I view family.  

Meet Andrea! 

Andrea is an old soul. As soon as we met, I knew that we would be fast friends and kindred spirits. She is a thinker, a gifted writer, and the waters of her heart run deep. Andrea and her family endured some tough times in the past. She writes here about their Thanksgiving traditions, and learning that sometimes, the most sacred gift is that which you already have... each other.

You can read more of Andrea's writings on her blog Washboard Storms.

Greetings all!
Dear Lindsey asked if I would write a little somthin' about one of my family's traditions, and I, of course, said, "Absolutely!"
It turned out to be a little harder than I thought it would be at first. 
I had anything but a typical Christian homeschool upbringing. My life has been anything but traditional- to anyone's way of thinking.

My mom raised my three younger brothers and I completely on her own, in low income housing projects, run-down farm houses and trailers with no heat or water. My childhood was one of great change, and great challenge, months and years punctuated with liberal amounts of overwhelming odds, sharp pains and fiery bursts joy. My life as a daughter resembles none of the lives of my friends. So, even though it seemed a little tense at first, I found my favorite family tradition. 

Every year about the time the leaves begin to blush and shiver in the startlingly colder breezes, my family gathers from the far corners of the house, the yard, the town- where ever we are scattered to, and we sit to discuss the impending holiday. 

"What should we have this year for Thanksgiving, folks? I am open to suggestions..." Mom begins, pen poised, looking, as she said, very open and adventurous. 
"Cranberry Molded Salad. Green bean casserole." A deep voice of the masculine sort offers this from a corner of the room.
"Turkey. Mashed Potatoes. Gravy." Another voice, not as deep but just as masculine, says. 
"Pie. Lots of pie." This from the youngest party present.
"Sausage and corn bread stuffing." At last, my contribution. 
"That's it? Nothing new? Just the Same Old, Same Old?" My culinary wiz of a mother almost sounds disappointed, but not surprised. She has been in on every Thanksgiving Dinner Meeting we have, and every year we say the same thing. Nothing new. Nothing changed. Nothing Doing.
"What about oyster stuffing, or creamed onions, or potato casserole?" Nope, no thank you, and no way. 
"Well, I guess if you wanted to add something.. I guess you could do that....." Dan, the eldest boy and most firmly entrenched in family tradition of us all, relents. The rest of us nod, hesitantly. "But you know, as long as we have the Same Old Stuff too." This gets a more enthusiastic approval from the rest of us. 
"Ok." Mom smiles, not having made a note on her page, "I guess Same Old it is."

While The Same Old refers *mostly* to a feast-like amount of food, the phrase means much, much more than just that.

The Same Old Means that Mom and I work in the kitchen for days before Thanksgiving, prepping, cooking, peeling, baking, mashing, frying, tasting, perfecting. Everything is done by hand, from scratch, in years past this was drawn out to even butchering our own bird. It means that we usually eat oatmeal or macaroni and cheese the night before to 'cleanse our palates' for the next day. It means the house is full of decadent smells, cooling pies and Christmas music. Every year we get out The Same Old New England Christmastide tape (*tape*, notice, not a cd or mp3, one of the extinct little gadgets you have to turn around every third song...) and every year I tear up when I hear the fiddle burst forth with the first strains of "Joy to the World- The Lord is Come!" It means the boys wander in and out of the kitchen, smelling and smiling. Dan will come bounding in, all 6'6" of him, and wrap Mom and I up in a monster hug saying, "Oh, I just LOVE this time of year- isn't this GREAT?!"  The Same Old means that the boys can eat all the pie they want after dinner, and the girls are able to mysteriously banish all thoughts towards 'lady-like' portions. I'll admit it- I eat stuffing until I am... well, stuffed!! It's a food I won't touch at any other time of the year because it is my special Thanksgiving flavor.
The Same Old also includes the Terrible Movie Marathon.  Every year, for enough years to make it a vital part of the day, we have had a Terrible Movie Marathon on Thanksgiving. After everyone is full of food and feeling doped up on gravy and tryptophan, we are in the mood to sit for hours on end and watch our least favorite movies- or, more correctly, movies that we are too embarrassed to admit to liking in public!  There are three rules to choosing the movies we watch on Thanksgiving Day: 1) They must either be in a series or have sequels enough to keep us occupied for several hours 2) Everyone must groan when they are mentioned, and 3) it can't be something we will want to see any other time of the year. 
Some past features in our Marathon have been; every episode in the third season of "Little House on the Prairie",  the entire gauntlet of 1930s monster flicks (The Invisible Man, The Invisible Man Returns, Son of The Invisible Man, The Invisible Agent, The Invisible Woman, Frankenstein, Frankenstein Returns, Son of Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein...... you get the idea) and every traumatic Shirley Temple musical ever conceived. Pie is consumed, movies are made fun of and all is well with the world.

You know, when Life refuses to be traditional and stay within the lines, I think people form tradition and structure where they can, framing sanctuaries and building Ebenezers* like the wanderers of old. Our Thanksgiving traditions have been our tower of stones set about in the wilderness. This year especially I think of the Help of our God Who has kept us throughout the years, and how thankful I am for it. We have known need -and so we feast with thankfulness and rejoicing on this day. We have known separation- and so we bond, and there have been years when it was just us, and it was more than enough. We have had a messy life- but there is a spot in a year where The Same Old reigns untouchable. 

It has been a messy life in the hands of a very Faithful God, and this tradition of gathering together and basking in that faithfulness is something I will always, always treasure.

*Ebenezer, from 1 Samuel 7:12; it means, "Stone of Help", or literally, a reminder of God's love, faithfulness, care or protection. 


  1. andrea,

    beautiful, as beautiful as you are.

    Aunt Beth

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