For the majority of my adult life, I have been “the child who moved away.” I have always lived at a distance from my immediate family, with a brief exception in the late 80s, and was usually absent from family gatherings.

This means that for more than 25 years I have been a professional guest for all types of holiday celebrations. I have enjoyed kosher Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas dinners that included homemade ravioli and everything in between. Sometimes I showed up with a dish to pass, but more often than not I brought wine or flowers.

A New Attitude

But this year, Holidays 2012, everything is different. I may be new to the Florida Suncoast, but my parents are not. Not only am I spending the holidays with family, I feel I should host every major holiday and some of the lesser ones too. Does anyone know what you should serve for Arbor Day?

So no more spending the day in my pajamas watching the Rose Parade; no more buying a bottle of wine and showing up just in time to eat; I am up at the crack of dawn roasting the turkey—and I am not referring to my dad.

The last holiday that I hosted for my family was Thanksgiving dinner in 1987. I am a passable cook and even like to think I can whip up a mean pie. But over the years I have become more set in my ways and there are some traditions that I have dropped along the way.

Hold the Mashed Potatoes

Traditions like mashed potatoes. I know, I know—everybody loves mashed potatoes. Except me. I detest them. I gag just thinking about swallowing a forkful of them. So if I am hosting a traditional holiday dinner, does that mean I have to make those nasty white piles of glob? No way. If they want them, they can bring them. Well, maybe I’ll cook the potatoes, but I will leave the mashing to my mom.

Stuffing It

And how about stuffing the turkey? I’m not squeamish, but sticking my arm into the cold body cavity of a dead bird is just creepy. However, I do love stuffing and have come up with a decent recipe that cooks in the crockpot. Maybe I can sneak it into the oven just before my guests arrive and they will never know.

But some of the traditions I was raised with remain strong. And of course I am referring to pie. For Thanksgiving it has to be pumpkin. I can eat an entire pie, warm with whipped cream, all by myself. If you’ve ever met me you know this is true. And that pumpkin pie is quickly followed by Christmas cookies and holiday breads. Now you know why I am not a big fan of January.

But I am really looking forward to these holidays with my family. And I am even looking forward to cooking dinner for the next 25 years. After that, we’re going out.

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