Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On socks, spatulas, and family traditions

Right about now, many Americans are preparing themselves for a Thanksgiving day filled with turkey and stuffing and football.

My family is dreaming of socks.

It’s a tradition in the Fenske clan. Each year, we rise before the sun does the morning after Thanksgiving and head to our local Fred Meyer retailer for their annual half-price sock sale.

It doesn’t matter if you need socks. It doesn’t matter that the sock selection is really no different a 5 a.m. as it is at 8 a.m. This is tradition, and it must be strictly observed.

The first year Pythagoras joined my family for Thanksgiving, he was perplexed.

“You already have plenty of socks,” he pointed out.

“That’s not the point. It’s tradition. Like pumpkin pie or turkey or having Hot Lips hit you with a spatula for cheating at Pictionary.”

“What happens to someone who breaks a tradition?”

There was an audible gasp as everyone in the family turned to stare. No one had ever considered this concept. Not even Hot Lips, who was reaching for her spatula at the mere thought.

Of course, Pythagoras has his own set of unusual family traditions. When we go to his parents’ house for Thanksgiving, we open Christmas presents. Yes, Christmas presents. Because much of his family spends Christmas in Germany, Thanksgiving is the only time we’re all assembled in one place and feeling festive. I actually look forward to it, since it trims out a lot of gift-buying stress in December.

Lest you think established tradition eliminates all hope of new traditions forming, I can assure you that’s not the case. We’ll be forming a new one this year as my long-divorced grandparents (Hot Lips and The Old Bastard) are forced to dine under the same roof. We will be frisking them at the door for weapons.

Do you have any unique traditions in your family? Anything that seemed normal growing up, but you realized with the addition of outsiders was not something all families did? Please share.

And please keep your hands off my socks. Touch the the pair I want, and I can assure you there will be bloodshed.


Sarah W said...

The day after Thanksgiving, all of us---my visiting parents, my MIL, the two kids, my husband and I, and any strays who happen to be around---troop over to the annual Art and Craft expo and shop for beautiful handmade gifts made---and this is the best part---by someone else's hands.

Then we stop at the ginormous Chinese buffet and eat into their profits. My husband and father traditionally leave the exhausted sushi chef cowering in the corner.

We roll home to wrap gifts in separate rooms so my parents can take Christmas gifts for both sides of the family back to Ohio and they can leave ours here.

Because the one thing that unites all of us is a deep dislike of paying for shipping.

Patty Blount said...

Hot Lips and The Old Bastard. God, to be a fly on the wall at your house.... I could write books for the rest of my life.

Anyhow, I love, love, LOVE this post. Traditions are important and as I've just suffered through another birthday and am reminded of my own mortality, I find they grow more important.

My youngest son and I have a Harry Potter tradition. We see each movie the day it comes out. As the series comes to an end, he turned to me and said, "When I have kids of my own, will you read them the books like you did me?"




Sorry; was too choked up to type more.

Anonymous said...

We are kindred spirits...of the shopping for half-price socks at Fred Meyers the day after Thanksgiving kind!

Seriously, I didn't know there were others out there. It started with my mom and now continues with me.

Every year since I can remember we've always gotten a box stuffed to the gills with socks. Dress socks, athletic socks (both crew and regular type), and sometimes there's even a random funny pair in there too.

Such great deals no wonder it's a tradition!

Christi Corbett

Danielle said...

My family celebrates the New Year with visit from the New Year's Bunny (he's closely related to the Easter Bunny). Every New Year's morning, the Bunny leaves a new outfit and new socks for each person.

I'm not sure where this came from, but hey, it's tradition! Plus, who can complain about new clothes?

Danica Avet said...

Hm, well, normally after we all eat we sit around staring at my mom's brother who eats pie with his hands, but that's another story all together. No, we don't have big traditions in our family for any holiday. Sometimes we'll play games designed to humiliate someone, other times we'll swap "remember when" stories designed to humiliate someone, and other times we'll be pinned in place while my uncle sings the vagina song he made up. Oh yes, high class all the way!

No matter what we do though, outsiders who join us think we're either crazy, or on the verge of being arrested. It's always so exciting!

Matthew MacNish said...

Boy do I miss Fred Meyer. We were so excited on Queen Anne when they built the new one in Ballard. FM is SO much better then Wal-Mart.

Oh well. I guess I'll have to settle for Tar-jay.

Kadi Easley said...

We don't have a Fred Meyer here, but if we did, we'd totally start the sock tradition. For some reason my kids, both grown now, like new socks more than anything else. If I filled a Christmas bag with nothing but socks they'd both be in heaven. There's just nothing like slipping on a pair of virgin sock.

Teri Anne Stanley said...

Back before my cousins and I spawned too many offspring to fit in one house at Thanksgiving, we always played poker after dinner. I'm pretty sure Uncle Dick cheated. He also told alot of really good dirty jokes. Then I got married and had to start playing 'nice' games like Scrabble. Whatever.

abby mumford said...

my siblings and i have a 5 year old tradition of suiting up to run in the local turkey trot (5K road race) on the morning of thanksgiving.

it's perfect. running before dinner lets us have seconds, thirds, fourths, AND it gets us out of the kitchen when the gizzards are being dealt with.

Lynnanne said...

Every year, we try to get someone with a prank gift for Christmas. For instance, when my cousin was in 1st grade, she had a pair of pink rhinestone cat eye classes. She hated them. And so, one day while on the school playground, she decided to bury them… unbeknownst to her mother. Her mother never knew the truth, always believing she lost them, until a few Christmases ago when I gifted. She sat in the middle of the room, in the "hot" seat, where all eyes were on her. On the top of the box was a bow complete with hand shovel. Once opened, she dug through the box full of dirt and discovered a pair of pink rhinestone cat eye reading glasses. The whole family was rolling in fits of laughter. Her mom, however, had steam rolling out of her ears (which was even funnier yet). My only regret is that I didn't think of it in time to actually go to the playground and find the original pair of glasses. This year, this same cousin will be the victim at Christmas again…

Miranda said...

this may fall under the category of wildly unfortunate, BUT

for three years my father has been secretly living in the guest room next door to my mother (they are non-speaking-terms divorced but he's still best buddies with ma's neighbor). it was only secret for two years, actually..she knows now. he wore disguises (there was a fedora) and planned his day based on her schedule. then one day he messed up and they both took out the garbage at the same time...mother looked up and AHHH apocalypse.

Anyway. Our holiday tradition is all the children sneaking in and out of our mother's house to visit our father without her knowledge and blaming it on gastric upset.

He still wears disguises JUST IN CASE.

Anonymous said...

I adore socks but am fascinated by this sock-sale tradition. It feels like it might have started with a rebellion - like a matriarch in your family tree stated one year:

"I'll never darn another damn sock!" And the mercantile tradition was born.

Happy Shopping!

Linda G. said...

I like the socks tradition. It's quirky.

Ours is terribly mundane, I'm afraid: watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning while we starve ourselves in preparation for the big feast over at my in-laws' later in the day.

Génette Wood said...

My second favorite part of this blog is always the comments. Your readers are fascinating, Tawna.

I'm wracking my brain for something unusual my family does. We've broken all of our traditions in the last few years because my aunts are getting crabbier with every passing holiday.

I can say, though, that if anyone were to get in the way of my 4th of July tradition (City of Chandler fireworks), I would run her over with the car as I left.


Sarah, I bow to your efficiency! Come do my holiday shopping?

Patty, awwww...that's very sweet!

christicorbett, so are we going to end up at the same Freddies fighting over that last pair of perfect wool socks?

Danielle, socks and a whole outfit? I need a New Years bunny in my life.

Danica, the vagina song? You'll have to share this sometime.

Matthew, I lived in Montana for college 14 years ago, and there was no Fred Meyer anywhere nearby. I wept daily.

kd easley, the sock sale is always when I splurge on a pair of cashmere socks. Soooo...soft!

Teri Anne, poker sounds fun! Every family game has to have a few cheaters, right?

Abby, thank you for making me feel like a slug :)

The Sprouting Acorn, that is a HILARIOUS story! Love it!

Miranda, wait, what? They were living in adjacent rooms in the same house? This sounds like a novel waiting to happen.

terripatrick, I never actually thought about the origins of the tradition. I'm thinking it has more to do with loving a good bargain, but I'll have to ask my mom!

Linda G, I don't think I've ever watched the parade. Maybe this year.

LadyGenette, no joke, the comments here are always fabulous!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Miranda said...

Oops, that didn't make total sense, did it. Sorry, I was too busy contemplating the amount of therapy I should probably be in.

They live in adjacent *houses*...daddy (a southern gentleman whose bed is held up by buckets containing 14000 rounds of ammunition) is camped out in his buddy's guest room, and the buddy's house is approximately 10 feet from my mother's. Oh, and mother has many pets, and they all have unexplainable love for my father (sometimes the dogs see him mowing buddy's lawn wearing army fatigues.. NOT JOKING). the faces mom makes in response to this are priceless.

I did actually mention to my mom that I wanted to weave elements of our crazy into a novel, but she de-friended me on Facebook in protest.

so since I'm not allowed, let me know if you ever need a bit of quick backstory for characters who are completely ludicrous, because I have a couple of 'em on speed dial.

Unknown said...

Well, we used to do Christmas and Thankgiving with my mom's side of the family, but they've since disowned us and we haven't heard a thing from them in the last six years.

So, my mom started a "Christmas Among Friends" to counter the fact that we are no longer having bath. It's usually set somewhere in between.

Susan S said...

I'm not sure it qualifies as a Thanksgiving tradition, but our family has a unique way of picking out a Christmas tree - we get a wrapped one (still bundled from the grower/delivery truck) and don't peek at it until we get it home. It started five years ago, from a weird necessity that I'll blog about in December, but the "random tree" has become oddly popular so now we wouldn't think of buying a tree we'd seen unwrapped in advance.