My Thanksgiving Traditions Are Changing

Patch Columnist Robbie Pickard reflects on how celebrating the holiday is changing as he becomes a full-fledged adult.

Let me start off by saying I love Thanksgiving, One of my favorite holidays, probably my second favorite. Since I can remember, our family would meet up in Anaheim at my great aunt’s house (my grandmother's sister), and I’d be smothered by a group of family members that I see once a year: Thanksgiving. I’d have my answers prepared to the three questions I know I’d be asked at least a dozen times each—“do you realize how much you’ve grown?”  “How are your grades in school?” And who could forget, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Yes I do, grades are good, and a professional soccer player. Done.

The best part of Thanksgiving is obviously the food. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, my other Great Aunt’s famous cinnamon rolls that I only eat once a year. Hell, I get so excited for that meal I’ll even throw a couple string beans on my plate. My cousin and I used to weigh ourselves before and after our meal to see who could gain more—shows how different body image issues are with kids and adults, eh?

Point is, I loved those years. It was tradition, I knew exactly what Thanksgiving was going to be like from start to finish before it happened, and I liked that. What you don’t realize as a kid is that the old folks don’t stay the same age, they’re nearing the end of their lives, but you don’t realize that because yours is just beginning. My grandmother's sister (along with 3 of my 4 grandparents) passed away, and we don’t make the drive down to Anaheim anymore.

For the last two years we have gone to Palm Springs, where my mom’s cousin has a huge, amazing house right on a golf course. The house is incredible, and we go to their country club where there is the biggest buffet I have ever seen—shrimp cocktails, quiches, and a mashed potato bar where a chef will put anything you want in a martini glass filled with potatoes. It’s everything every person dreams of their rich life being like, but as cool as it is, it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving. Where are my Great Aunt’s cinnamon rolls?

I’m headed home to Palos Verdes Wednesday night, and we will make the drive to Palm Springs on Thursday before spending the rest of the weekend home at my parent’s house, eating turkey soup, turkey sandwiches, and trying to figure out a way to make turkey fit into breakfast. Honestly, I’m more excited about that part of the weekend than Chef Francois asking me if I’d like chives in my martini glass filled with potatoes.

Traditions change, there’s no way things can ever stay exactly the way they were. I’m getting older, and I’m realizing that soon it will be up to my sister and I to create our own Thanksgiving tradition, and invite our parents (who will eventually be grandparents, which sounds insane to even say out loud), and we will be the “team captains” of this whole shindig. I don’t plan on leaving Santa Monica anytime soon, so is this where my future Thanksgivings will take place?

I’m slowly realizing that the torch is being passed. Marriage and kids, granted they are giant steps in one’s lifetime, are really the last two things I have on my checklist of becoming a full-fledged adult. There aren’t many things I can pawn off and say, “well my parents handle that,” anymore, but I’m okay with it. I look forward to taking these things on, and hopefully being proud of my results. So this year I am thankful for my family, friends, and my amazing girlfriend. And also for the idea of hosting future Pickard Thanksgivings right here in Santa Monica.


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