Thirty years in, and I feel like I'm in some sort of holiday limbo. My mom (now better known around these parts as Cha Cha, or on formal days, Grandma Cha Cha) called at about 10am on Thanksgiving, while she and my dad (aka Pops) were on their way to Uncle Pete and Aunt Greg's house. Pete has been the host to my family's Thanksgiving dinners for the last two decades, which makes it as close to a family tradition as our nomadic tribe is likely to accomplish. As I was talking to Cha Cha, I could practically smell the turkey, duck and venison laid out in the dining room, and at least four homemade pies waiting in the wings. Even though it's been at least eight years since I spent Thanksgiving in that room, it's still what I think of when the holiday comes around.
But for those last 8 years, The Admiral and I have been working to make our own holiday tradition. Since there are only two of us (who eat like humans, anyway) we came to settle on a Thanksgiving feast that revolves around that most versatile of foods: cheese. We cook up a gouda ball in the afternoon and finish off the day with Triple Cheese Pesto Pizza. Somewhere in between, we watch the parade, flip through edited-for-TV movies, maybe go for a walk. It's not a bad way to spend a day, but I don't think either one of us feels like it's Official.
Christmas is even more complicated, since we alternate between trips to our native homelands in the north. We decorate the house and crank up the Charlie Brown Christmas DVD, but since we're not actually here on the 25th (but our giant gun-toting housesitter is, you nefarious criminal-type blog-readers!) and most of our gift recipients are out of state, we don't even bother putting up a tree. I rarely shop offline because everything has to get shipped anyway, so I don't even get the cheesy peripheral Christmassyness of the mall scene.
Now, now, I'm not trying to make everyone all sad. We have happy holidays and we enjoy the time together, whether it's just our nuclear family or a multi-generational free-for-all. But now that we have a pre-schooler and another baby on the way, we're starting to feel like it's time to pull our ever-shrinking anchor out of the tundra and nurture the roots we're starting to form down here (mixaphorically speaking). We don't have extended family, but our family itself is starting to extend. Soon there will be four of us, but that doesn't take into account the friends who have taken us into their own families. As I was growing up, we lived 2000 miles from my parents' parents, yet I only have rich, happy memories of holidays spent with our close-knit clan of neighbors and the occasional visiting relative. It's hard to think of giving up time with my parents and sister, even thought it's just a week every other year, but I want my children to grow up feeling like their house is enough, that their family is complete, and that anywhere we're loved is home.