Coffee with Mimi: If you can’t remember, create memories

By Mimi Becker

Contributing writer

Have you been watching “The Crown” on Netflix?  Historically, Queen Elizabeth II is the only British monarch most Americans remember, so we are fascinated.  We dealt with the role of the Monarchy in our social and political system quite a few years ago. Yet, we remain fascinated by the Royal family.  Transcending the goings on amongst the various children, spouses, lords and ladies reigns Elizabeth, the daughter of the accidental King.  A King who overcame the status of “spare” heir when the older brother insisted on an inappropriate marriage.  Tradition did not allow it.

Millions in America have been transfixed watching the weddings, births, divorces, funerals and various ceremonies which punctuate the lives of the British Royals.  We have followed with fascination and sadness, the inevitable public scandals of lives led in the media driven modern world.   Through it all has been the virtual certainty that the “Crown” will remain, anchored in hundreds of years of tradition which has been instilled by strict adherence to the predictable processes established by the Magna Carta and the Constitution, and, well, the Monarchy.

It is Thanksgiving weekend in America.  Over the river and through the woods.  Turkey, not ham, stuffing, pumpkin pie, maybe apple or pecan, as well.  Mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes.  Parades and football. Likely a four-day weekend, shopping.  Traditions proscribed in families with a few alterations to accommodate the changes of the members through marriage, births and deaths.

Conversations among friends include what each person’s family plans to do for the holiday.  “We always go to _____ in the early afternoon and then to_____ in the evening.”  “We bring the desserts, ____ always does the rolls.”  Thanksgiving celebrations begin the holiday pattern observed year after year in America.

We grow up thinking the pattern has existed for many generations before and assume it will continue for generations to come.  As time inevitably moves on change is thrust upon us.  The oldest marries a person whose parents live in another state.  A second child marries into a family for whom Thanksgiving dinner is treasured.  Parents die and family members are set adrift in the holiday schedule.  We feel responsible for the loss of the traditions.  They were left in our care.

Really, a bit selfish and presumptious.  My parents moved away from “home” when I was born.  I remember just one time when we went over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving.  I never remember going for Christmas.  Perhaps my parents felt nostalgic for home at the holidays.  But, what they did was create our memories.  When I married, right after Christmas, (and just after my sister married at Thanksgiving), my Mom gave me a piece of advice.  Create your own traditions.

Among my siblings, most of our in-laws are no longer with us.  Our children, for the most part, have families of their own, and in-laws.  Our father died a number of years ago.  Thankfully, Mom is active and healthy.  And our mom’s advice has served us all well, I think.

We do have Thanksgiving at “home.”  As many as possible come to Mom’s at some designated time sometime in the fall.  I remember one year when it was mid-September. This year it was the first weekend in November, a bit late for us!  Obviously, it is on a Saturday, maybe UK is playing.  If I haven’t already, I dispense the Christmas draw names reminding everyone of the rules.  Listen to the ridiculous assertions that they had the same names last year.   The menu and assignments are set by Mom and the individual interpretations are met with the usual discussions about recipes.  We are a foodie family.  The big and little tables are all mixed up.

Mom and our brother and sister-in-law are traveling this weekend.  Some of the other siblings are with children, nieces, nephews, in-laws, somewhere.  Or maybe having a quiet weekend at their own “homes.” Steve and I are at the beach with two of our children, our daughter-in-law, our granddaughter and our dog.  Our third child and her husband are on a belated Honeymoon.

We may buy the desserts at the local Catholic Church bake sale.  We are grilling the turkey.  Beach house dishes will do just fine and shells will make up the centerpiece.  Maybe we will do this again next year.  Or not.

I don’t know where the Queen is this weekend, as Thanksgiving is not really their thing, but I do hope she has told William and Catherine they can have the time to themselves, because even in their roles as the future of the monarchy and keepers of the weight of that tradition, they should be encouraged to make their own memories.