I’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking about the word “family” over the course of this year. Sometime early in our engagement a friend said that one of the big meaningful things about getting married is that it is, in a lot of ways, the start of a new family. And despite the fact that Jeff and I lived together for more than five years before getting married, our wedding really did feel like the beginning of the two of us as a family. We’d traveled together. We took care of each other when we got sick. We’d celebrated holidays and new jobs and graduations together. But we didn’t really call ourselves a family. I mean, let’s face it, getting married is the first time you can think a family member is sexy without feeling dirty about it.
This is also the first year that other people have asked if we’re going to have new family traditions now that we’re married. As if the rings give us a new privilege to break free and celebrate Thankgiving our own way. I’m always a little mystified by this one since Jeff and I started our own traditions when we moved away from home. Distance makes a much better impetus for change than a marriage document, and by this point we’ve pretty much established our Thanksgiving tradition.
We, or rather I, start planning for the holiday early. Often as early as April, although this year I got a late start and only began in July. I go through notes of past years, look up new recipes, start thinking about what I want to make for this year. It’s an almost entirely different meal every year – except for this cranberry sauce which Jeff has decreed must appear at every Thanksgiving. A month in advance we have a menu, a few weeks in advance we have an idea of the guest list (which varies from four to our all time record of 21), and the weekend before the holiday we start cooking. We’re in the thick of it now, fridges bursting with every dairy product you can think of. It’s wonderful. It’s exhausting. It’s our first family Thanksgiving. Sort of.