Our family loves the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. It’s filled with Andersen family memories and traditions. And we’ve got a bunch of them. I’m often saddened when I realize how many families have missed out on all that traditions can add to family spirit and culture.
Some traditions are common to many; e.g., Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas trees. Some are handed down for generations. Others start with something unexpected yet are significant enough to be repeated.
Rerouted And No Food
Such was the Thanksgiving of 1992. We’d planned a great one. Our family traveled with me the day before Thanksgiving to Marshfield, WI where I spoke at a church that evening. The following morning we headed to Grandma’s house in Iowa.
But a Wisconsin blizzard moved in quickly that morning. Before even reaching the state border, I knew we weren’t going to make it to Iowa. We made the decision to head home. What should have taken a couple hours took twice that long. A white-knuckle drive all the way.
We rolled into the small town close to our house after 1:00pm. We had left our refrigerator pretty bare-bones since we were planning to be gone for a long weekend. We’d hoped to hit the grocery store on the way home but everything had closed at 1:00pm.
Except the gas station. Our Thanksgiving menu suddenly shifted to Jack’s frozen pizza and root beer.
We were so thankful to have made it home. After decompressing from the nerve-wracking drive, we soaked up the winter wonderland surrounding our country farm house.
We gathered at the table and thanked God for bringing us home safely, for each other, for all His blessings in our lives, and for the feast we were about to enjoy. We ate our pepperoni pizza on our best china and sipped root beer from the crystal goblets.
The rest of the weekend was unimaginably good. All of our friends knew we’d be out of town and we didn’t let them know any different. We hibernated in our country home, played in the snow, took naps, played games, watched videos.
It remains our best Thanksgiving ever.
All of our Thanksgivings are good. But they now carry with them a tradition that began in 1992. Every Thanksgiving since then, an hour before our Thanksgiving feast, we share a frozen pizza—cooked, of course—and some root beer. It reminds us of that amazing, unpredictable Thanksgiving.
More importantly, it reminds us that no matter how spartan or unexpected life may be at the moment, it’s all good as long as we’re together.
Watch For Tradition Potential
Make the most of the upcoming holidays. Create memories by doing even the simplest things—together. And be careful about overreacting to the unplanned and even seemingly negative experiences that arise. It may be latent with a valuable lesson, a great experience, and/or a wonderful memory that becomes a treasured family tradition.
Plan for the best. And make the best of the unexpected.
Question: What tradition originated in your family as the result of something unexpected? Share your answer in the comments below.