Dear Crabby, Our Thanksgiving Tradition Stinks!

Dear Crabby,

Our family has the worst Thanksgiving Day tradition ever!  All we do is sit around and argue; we don’t do anything memorable or fun.  How can we change this?

Sincerely, Will Youhelpme

Dear Mr. Youhelpme,

It sounds like you are a pretty standard American family living out the normal traditions of the holiday. If it wasn’t for family and arguments, what would we do for any holiday? Personally, I was unaware of any of this until adulthood, when my wife made me go to my mother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving. You see, growing up we had this tradition where we would go to my grandmother’s house for only one or two hours every year; then we had to race up north to see the comets. My father was apparently really into these comets that were only visible on Thanksgiving night from this one spot on a lake in Northern Michigan. Every year, we would go and spend hours staring at the sky. It was almost always cloudy and I never saw anything except an occasional snowflake. But it was our tradition, and we had a great time playing cards and making jokes and telling stories. When I was first married, I told my new bride that we had to continue this tradition, but she would have nothing to do with it! She said that Thanksgiving Dinner was the most important family holiday of the year and that we would certainly spend it with her parents and their relatives. During the latter years of my dad’s life, I once mentioned how I missed those Thanksgiving camp-outs and looking for those comets. Then I commented on how boring these dinners were and how all we ever did was watch the Lions lose a football game and then sit around and complain about life. My dad actually giggled a little and said he needed to tell me a secret: there were never any comets to begin with; he was just looking for a reason to always take the family away in order to avoid that dinner with the in-laws. I was shocked, and a little let down at first! Then I laughed at his genius. You know, in his own little, devious way he started a brand new tradition that I grew to look forward to. So, I guess the moral of the story is that you need to think about who you want to spend your time with, and make it happen. You can learn to change the conversation over at the in-laws, or you can make up stories about comets in Northern Michigan. As long as you are with the ones you love, you will enjoy the time!

Sincerely, Dear Crabby

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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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