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I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions lately. The things we all do that are just inherent in our bones. Without thinking. We’ve done them so much they have become second nature at most. 

By LaTria Garnigan

A tradition, by definition, is: a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting.

One of the first “traditions” I can think of is Thanksgiving at my Grandma Rita’s house. It always just was. I never had to wonder what I was going to be doing on that day. Never thought, “where will I eat?” Or, “who is coming?” It was a constant. A tradition, if you will.

Age, nor distance stirred that constant. It didn’t matter even when I journeyed up to Knoxville, Tenn. for college — I always made my way back to Grandma Rita’s house for this yearly family gathering. It’s always been a mini reunion of sorts. My grandmother and all of her children (my mother included) would host while my great aunt and her children would come in from out of town. We would swap on New Year’s Day and venture to their territory while they hosted us.

I never realized this until now, but I’m pretty sure that, besides the crisp, cool weather, this is the reason the fall and winter are my favorite times of the year. This is truly just about the only time I get to see this much of my family at once. As much as they annoy me at times, something magical happens when we’re all together.

No bickering over who did or said what — just sounds of joyous communing.

Things slowly changed two years ago. A stroke decelerated our matriarch and while we continued our Thanksgiving tradition at her house, it was quieter. Mostly by the fact that her speech had escaped her and there were no quick-witted quips coming from her lips.

We buried her months later, so last year was the first Thanksgiving that broke tradition.

We soldiered on, a change of venue to my mom’s house and less out of town family the result.

We managed to have our continued large gathering for New Year’s, but Thanksgiving was still smaller than expected. Even though my mom’s house is larger than Grandma Rita’s, there was nothing like cramming into her tiny house with the kids running around her expansive yard.

I look forward to this year’s gathering, while in the back of my mind I’ll know that the experience of the tradition has shifted. But the feeling of family is still there. That’s the thing about life … it changes. Things shift and people move on, heavenly locales included.

New traditions take form, and we learn to adjust.

I hope all of you are able to feel the love of family this holiday season and that you are able to continue on with your family traditions. You may even make a new one this year.

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