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Thanksgiving has always been one of my least favorite holidays. I know, I know, … that sounds un-American, but the fact is I really don’t care for turkey, I can’t eat stuffing, and I think pumpkin pie is bland and unexciting.  The meal is a lot of work and the dishes afterwards are overwhelming .

A few years back, I started making ice cream pie instead of pumpkin.  Nobody complained!  The next year, we added mac and cheese so the grandkids would eat something—the grown-ups devoured it. This year, I decided—in the tradition of the founding fathers—to ask everyone to pitch in.  My husband offered to cook the turkey and make the stuffing.  I put the rest of the meal out to the kids and let them decide what to bring.  I let go of tradition and prepared to just enjoy the day whether or not the pie came from the freezer section of Stop and Shop or the mac and cheese was Kraft.

Guess what?  It was the absolute best Thanksgiving ever.  I set a beautiful table. I made three types of vegetables.  My son, Mark– the bread eater— brought four types of rolls and then on the spur of the moment decided to make signature apple cider mimosas for everyone.  One daughter made traditional mashed potatoes—she doesn’t cook for large groups so she had to boil four little pots of potatoes to make enough.  My oldest son made a mac and cheese far removed from Kraft with four types of gourmet cheese.  My 14-year-old made mini-tacos.  My youngest son—the health nut—made mini fruit skewers.  My mother-in-law brought a box of Godiva chocolates . We had ice cream sandwich pie, sparkling cider, potato salad, pickled green beans and rice Krispy treats. It was a feast, but it wasn’t just my feast. It was a celebration of family.

Be the change you wish to see in the world” is an expression attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.  The actual closest verifiable remark  from Gandhi is this: If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.  As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him…We need not wait to see what others do.”

I don’t know why I waited so long to change a tradition that wasn’t enjoyable. Maybe I was afraid that the kids wouldn’t want to come home if things weren’t exactly the same. Or maybe I just didn’t want to let go of the American vision of how we celebrate Thanksgiving. In any case, there were still tons of dishes and a few squabbles—we are family after all– but next year I will look forward to Thanksgiving in a way I haven’t for a long time.

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