Here’s a Thanksgiving guest blog from Michael Freeman, father of Alex, 23, Kelsey, 21 and Janice, 16. Executive vice president of the Healthcare Leadership Council in Washington, D.C., he provides speechwriting and communications consulting services through his firm, Podium Prose.
Dear Alex, Kelsey and Janice,
I should have known I was making a mistake as soon as I opened the food section of the Washington Post this past Sunday. Seeing a recipe for peanut crunch sweet potatoes, the amateur chef in me was intrigued and mentioned that we could make it a part of this year’s Thanksgiving menu.
The three of you looked at me as if I had suggested canceling the holiday altogether. Janice, you finished chewing your cinnamon roll and told me, in no uncertain terms, “no.” Kelsey, you told me to put down the newspaper as if it were a dangerous weapon with which I couldn’t be trusted. Alex, ever the diplomatic one, you told me I could add a new yam version to our traditional sweet potato recipe, but couldn’t replace it.
That’s the key – tradition. You three have upended the stereotype of teenagers and twenty-somethings who want to thumb their noses at the ‘way we’ve always done things.’ In fact, the three of you have appointed yourselves the protectors of family traditions, right down to keeping the Thanksgiving menu the same as it was when your arms weren’t long enough to reach the cranberry sauce.
That’s why it took you years to forgive me for ordering a turducken from Baton Rouge, back when you were in elementary school, to take the turkey’s place in the center of the table. And your mother and I have never been allowed to forget about the changes to the raspberry salad recipe that gave it the unfortunate consistency of a tough rump roast.
But what this tells me is how much you value the memories of your childhood, teenage and young adult years and the experiences we’ve shared as a family. And even if it means reining in my culinary creativity, there’s a rich reward in seeing that you’re in no rush to run away from the traditions you grew up with.
With that in mind, I guess we can skip peanut crunch sweet potatoes for another year.