Keeping family traditions after losing a parent is hard. This has been a year of firsts since my mom died. This week will be another first, my first Thanksgiving without her. I get a lump in my throat and glassy eyed just typing that. So far approaching this holiday has not been to hard except for one thing, keeping tradition.
My family did not have too many family traditions surrounding Thanksgiving. My mom and then myself always cooked our family’s favorite foods even if we visited other family members. If we went to a relative’s house for Turkey Day then we would eat our family’s favorites the next day and we would finish it off with sweet potato pie. Now that pie, that pie, that is the tradition. That sweet potatoe pie has been passed down through the generations. I don’t know how far back it goes but I know my mom’s grandmother used to make it. That makes me the fourth generation to prepare our recipe. The recipe and preparing the pie is the main tradition.
I had to decide if I would even bother to make it this year, without my mom. Keeping family traditions after losing a parent is hard because you don’t know what to expect. Would I still enjoy making the pie now? Would it be to painful? How sad would it make me? So many unanswered questions that come with a certain amount of fear.
If you follow me on social media than you know what I did. I made the pie. I did not get sad making the pie and I actually still enjoyed preparing it. What surprised me is how scared I felt preparing it. I felt scared that I would mess it up. Now my mom started teaching me how to make this pie when I was a little girl. There is no written recipe and no measuring cups involved. I learned by watching her do it as a little girl, helping her do it as a teen, doing it myself under her supervision as a young woman and then doing it all alone with her judging the final outcome. I gained her approval thereby mastering this pie years ago. I have made it on my own for at least the last 10 years. So my fear was completely irrational. Yet I felt scared that the absence of her presence in my home while I was making it would somehow make me screw it up. I have not tried the pie yet because the tradition also includes not having it until Thanksgiving. So to be honest I am still a little nervous that it somehow will be messed up.
I know I am being irrational and I logically know the pie is perfect just like every year. Ultimately, the important thing is not how the pie turns out. The important thing is that I made the pie. By making the pie I keep the tradition. I keep one of the things my mom taught me alive. I keep her memory alive, and my grandmother’s memory alive, and my great grandmother’s memory alive. Keeping family traditions after losing a parent is hard but losing the skill and not being able to pass the recipe down to my future children would be even harder.
What family traditions are you practicing this year? Have you kept family traditions after losing a loved one?