What's Thanksgiving without Pizza?

Thinking about Thanksgiving and out family traditions.

It may seem early, but it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving 2012. And when you do, I’m sure you’ll ask that traditional question, “What’s Thanksgiving without Pizza?”

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, football, and food…turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and of course pizza. What’s the matter? Don’t you have pizza on your Thanksgiving table? 

Our Thanksgiving pizza started years ago when I invited Bob, Diane and their family to our house for Thanksgiving. They had recently moved to Connecticut and would be alone for the holiday. When I asked Bob’s children what they wanted for thanksgiving dinner his teenaged son yelled, “Pizza”! This drew a rebuke from Bob. He apologized to me and informed his son that pizza was not a
traditional food for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Day came and they arrived. I set a large pizza on the table, near the turkey. Bob and Diane were stunned. My in-laws were shocked. All the kids were ecstatic. It was a first. Some one commented that pizza wasn’t traditional…and invoked the Lord’s forgiveness for what I’d done. “Be careful. You don’t want to go tampering with Thanksgiving traditions!” 

Many things we take for granted were not at the original Thanksgiving. Sorry,
there was no pumpkin pie, corn, cranberries, or sweet potatoes. Sorry, there
was no football game. Sorry, there were no forks! Forks? There were no forks at
the first thanksgiving. They were not in common usage at that time. Yet today
all those things are there. Traditions do change over time. We don’t remember
when or why. Somehow, they just change. 

Thanksgiving is about thanking God for all we have, for helping us survive the harsh world, for blessing our family and friends. That part of the tradition has remained constant…giving thanks. 

I like traditions. They keep me anchored. They feel like a foundation in an ever-changing world. Yet there are “traditions” in life that can hinder growth. You’ve seen these too in your own lives. They are the “politics, policies, procedures, rules, and regulations” that we once created to help organize our life. You hear it in the phrases, “We’ve always done it this way.” or, “That’s not how I was
taught to do it

For example, you may have heard the story about the husband who wondered why his wife always cut the ham into two pieces before she baked it. She said it was something she had learned from her mother. And her mother had learned it from her mother. When the husband asked the grandmother why she cut the ham that way, she laughed and said, “…because my first oven was too small for the whole ham!” 

Old story with an important message, we often don’t know why we do what we do! I am NOT suggesting that we throw out all our traditions. I AM suggesting that we begin to think first about what we do and why. The Jewish Passover is an
example of remembering why. During the Seder the youngest child asks, “Why is
this night different from all other nights
?” Then the narrative of first Passover begins. 

Traditions are our foundations…our beliefs…our strengths…our remembrances. From time to time, we need to examine them and keep that which is good. To help start your own examination, ask yourself a few questions like these… 

What is the original meaning or purpose of our tradition?

Why is important to remember our tradition?

How does this tradition strengthen us and add value to our lives and work?

What would we gain or lose if we changed the tradition? 

So, this year when you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner, add something new (maybe a moussaka pizza), give thanks to God, and bless your family. That day I’ll send you my greetings from Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where I’ll be eating lamb satays and chili crab. Who knows? Maybe I’ll add that to our traditional pizza. 


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Helen Reynolds September 21, 2012 at 02:33 PM
When we moved away from family and could not be with them for Thanksgiving we started our own tradition. We take in a movie and then return home to a meal we have all voted on. One year it was crab legs, another barbecued shrimp and yet another jambalaya. New traditions can make families feel special.
Charles Fields September 21, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Thanks Helen...what a creative approach to the holiday! I may have to try some of those dishes. Charlie


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