Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Old Christmas

I am blessed to have grown up in a family that loved tradition, but didn’t mind being flexible when circumstances called for changes. Daddy worked shift work, so sometimes birthdays and even Thanksgiving dates were moved so he could be part of the festivities.

Now that my children are grown, and even their children are grown, we gather at my house on Saturday after Thanksgiving Day. That allows my girls to have Thanksgiving at home or with their spouse’s families without them having to take turns or try to hectically fit it all in on one day.

This year we are not even going to try to do the whole turkey dinner thing. The center piece of the menu will be my mama’s scalloped oysters. Julia will make them since she gets it closest to “right”. Mama didn’t have a recipe written down, so it is all by memory.  I am fixing a spiral cut ham and roasted veggies. I am cooking up some fresh pumpkin and haven’t decided what I’ll do with it yet. My daughter, Julia, says she is bringing collard and cornbread sandwiches. That will be something new to me, but sounds yummy.

I have changed my old tradition of putting the Christmas tree up on Mama’s birthday, the 16th. I put it up on Thanksgiving Day now, since I have a nice quiet day to myself. Then the great-grandkids can see it when they come on Saturday.

I don’t remember Daddy working on Christmas, so we kept pretty close to tradition with Christmas morning festivities.  I can remember as we got older Daddy used to comment that we should celebrate on Old Christmas so we could buy gifts on sale. We laughed. I don’t think he realized how prophetic his idea was. But, some years ago we adopted that old Outer Banks tradition of observing January 6th (or the first weekend in January for us) as Christmas, complete with the oyster roast. Everyone comes to Memaw’s House (that’s me). After I read the Christmas Story from Luke 2, a tradition my mother started when I was a child, we exchange gifts. Then we start preparing the food. The oysters are cooked outdoors and we also cook a Low Country Boil. There is beer for the grownups and hot cider for the youngsters. The evening usually ends with us huddled around the fire, toasting marshmallows and making smores for dessert, while singing to some guitar playing by my talented daughters.

This new tradition allows my children to have their own Christmas at home or with the spouse’s family, and they don’t have to travel in the holiday rush. And like Daddy said, “You can buy presents on sale.” I’m sorry it took so long, Daddy. But, just want you to know it was a really good idea.

For more about Old Christmas on the NC Outer Banks you can read my article at