The Picky Holiday Traditionalist

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. The crisp fall air welcomes family into our warm home that is buzzing with excitement and cooking commotion. The extravagant spread and delicious aromas keeps us going until our stomachs ache. That’s when we all gather in the living room to snuggle by the fire, squeeze in a slice of apple pie and watch the game on TV until we fall asleep. When I was young I wished that this thanksgiving tradition would never change – I wanted to have the same celebration for every Thanksgiving feast. Until recently, the food and family that surrounded the table seemed to be the only two things that didn’t change. New pets, a new home, new jobs and new schedules all changed our holiday in one way or another. In fact, my Thanksgiving tradition was changing right before my eyes.

Wait – a tradition is changing? That doesn’t seem right.

When most people think of tradition they believe the whole meaning of tradition lies within the beauty that it’s not supposed to change. It’s meant to be the same every year – that’s what makes it a tradition. The truth is that traditions are ever-changing. New family members are welcomed, taste buds approve of new foods and new places to celebrate would make my holidays richer than a young version of myself could ever imagine.

Untraditional Christmas Dinner 2013: White Rice and Spring Rolls
Untraditional Christmas Dinner 2013: White Rice and Spring Rolls

Changing holiday traditions are similar to the way I understand the change among my picky taste buds.

Picky eating is a lifestyle that I have identified with my whole life. I’ve always been picky about the food I eat in some way – I won’t eat it because it doesn’t taste good, it shouldn’t touch anything else or it has too much sauce on it. As I grow older, I notice my picky eating habits changing no matter how badly I want to hold onto my picky identity. My taste buds have changed in ways I never imagined. The ingredients in green bean casseroles that I once insisted be separated have become delicious concoctions just as creamed corn, sweet potatoes and wheat bread are steadily making way into my diet.

I once thought of picky eating as I imagined Thanksgiving dinner: I never wanted it to change. But as I grow older, I’ve realized that my taste buds are changing. I’m finding confidence to try unfamiliar things and welcome new foods into my diet, two things I never thought would happen. With these new changes, I am exposing myself to a variety of new experiences and adventures that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It’s shocking but true – picky eaters do change.

The idea of picky eating is just like the concept of holiday tradition: on the outside you never want it to change but once you start to experience small changes as you grow older, you realize that you wouldn’t have it any other way.

– MW