Because we’re Greek, I often get asked about our Thanksgiving traditions and what kind of foods we eat. But honestly, we don’t do anything out of the ordinary. We always have turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, mac and cheese – the works. The only thing different might be that we usually eat at my family’s steakhouse.
They own a local restaurant with a buffet, so once the customers are gone, they close the doors around 3 or 4, after which it’s our time to eat.
Every year, my mom asks each of us what we’d like for Thanksgiving dinner. One year, a while back, I asked for that green bean casserole she made the year before. With my smile in place and hand on my chest, I told her it was so tasty, and I buttered her up as best I could because, well – I really wanted that green bean casserole.
On Thanksgiving day, we gathered around, plates in hand, ready to feast. I had my leggings on for extra room to grow, because I was planning on devouring everything – especially that magical green bean casserole.
I walked around the buffet in search of it, steam rising from each of the dishes. And when I found the green beans, I stopped my brothers and pointed. “What’s that?” We all looked at the green beans and what looked like shredded cheese sprinkled on top.
That’s when my mom approached us and said, “That’s the green bean casserole.”
My brothers and I laughed pretty hard at her innocent proclamation, not to make fun of her, but because she’d only put cheese on green beans and called it a casserole. Had she not made a living by cooking, we wouldn’t have thought it was that funny.
This is my favorite Thanksgiving memory, and to her dismay, we bring it up every year – she’s probably cringing as she reads this post now. But she laughs because that’s what it’s about – spending time with loved ones and creating memories that we’ll talk about down the road. Memories that we’ll tell my two nieces as they grow up. Ones that we’ll laugh about with my own kids some day. And so forth.
Hopefully, we’ll create better ones than this, because perhaps you just had to be there to find the humor in it.
In any case, the holidays can be hectic and overwhelming for a lot of people. For me, it’s this way because it’s difficult to break my usual routine. We travel to see my husband’s family, and then my family is also an hour away. There are so many traditions and festive activities to partake in the week of. There’s food to cook, gifts to buy, and Christmas cards to send out.
We don’t send Christmas cards, but it’s still hectic trying to get my dogs to PetCo for a pic with Santa.
It’s a time for families to gather and create those memories, and it sometimes means way less “me time.” I’ve come to cherish my time to myself, to go to the gym, to work on my manuscript, to chase those dreams. I get anxious when I can’t write or work out in peace. Sometimes I’m reluctant to break away from my solid routine, but it’s also necessary.
I don’t want to miss out on family time. On good laughs and yummy food. I want to create more “green bean casserole” moments. It’s so important to maintain focus on your goals, but I think it’s also important to take breaks. To mix things up and not worry about the word count or that scene that still feels “off.”
No matter how important those goals are, these moments with family and loved ones are also crucial. It’s humbling and fun to spend time with loved ones, and this is what the holidays are about – being together.
But you can’t truly be there and enjoy yourself if you’re not mentally present. Be present in the moment. Laugh so hard you have to hold your belly. Eat so much you might explode. Hug those you care about and enjoy the moments with them.
Listen to your Uncle Joe tell you the same story over and over again. Help your Grandma Betty cook the dressing. Watch your favorite movie you watch every year because it’s a tradition now.
Make the memories. Create traditions. Cleanse your mind and soul.
And afterward? Hit the ground running. Because, as one of my favorite fitness personality Paige Reilly often says, “there’s a time and place to be a machine.”
And the holidays shouldn’t be that time and place. They should be your time to relax and be present in the moment. Allow yourself a break every now and then – this applies beyond the holidays too!
Then be a machine. Keep your head down and stay focused, but don’t let yourself miss out on all the other important parts of life.
Happy Thanksgiving y’all ❤