Every family is saturated with traditions. Those traditions have, over the years, become a culture—a language the entire family understands and appreciates. Our family is no different.
Some of those traditions are fun, others more serious. They range from activities like riding horses, camping or working in a field to food that we all love like double stuffed potatoes, deviled eggs, cheese melted on a plate OR the coveted Slush that Grandma Ginger makes for special occasions. It is around holiday season, that we are all together to enjoy all our similarities—AND our differences!
This week, Lady Hiva and I celebrated Thanksgiving with just the two of us. It was a simple day. It was a perfect day. We have so much to be thankful for over this past year. We have been very blessed. It was nice to have a day of quietness to remember all that we are thankful for. And don’t worry, we even had SLUSH!
Orange slush is a simple concoction: Orange Juice, Lemonade, Almond extract and LOTS of Vanilla extract. It is then frozen overnight to be ready for the family gathering the next day. Ginger always uses the same two enormous white Tupperware bowls to make it. To see them any other time of year it still reminds me of Slush and family gatherings. Slush is loved by all of us. Some family members have added different aspects over the years to tantalize their taste buds, Heidi likes to have a little Sprite in hers, Lady Hiva likes it with whip cream…but no matter what, we all love it. If there is someone in the family that cannot be with us, when they call during the party the first thing they ask about is if there is Slush—of course there is. They know that. But I guess we all just want to confirm anyway. A small way to know we are still a family no matter how far away we are from each other some things never change.
Recently, we past the three year anniversary of Trevor passing away; Ironically, in this Season of thanks, we have had so much sorrow over the years. (If you have not read the book yet, you can see why it is named WHITE LILIES IN AUTUMN) One of the cousins wrote on her Facebook page that she was missing Trevor and hoped that there was some of Grandma Ginger’s Slush in Heaven! Another cousin responded that if there wasn’t she was boycotting ever going. Yes, there was some humor to the conversation, but again it was a small way to communicate that when we are gathering as a family, and drinking our Slush, we miss those that are not there and hope in some way they know we miss them and wish they were there to drink some Slush too.
Although Lady Hiva and I were back in Manila on Thanksgiving Day, we still had our Slush to enjoy. Luckily, we were able to spend time with both our families at the beginning of the month. Having large dinners with Lady Hiva’s family and then having a Thanksgiving dinner with mine.
These times are so cherished. We sit around relaxing. Those that are there swap stories about growing up together. Most are full of laughter until our sides ache; although they may not have been as funny when they occurred years ago. We are able to meet the new additions to the families through births, adoptions, and marriages. We also notice the holes that are left when someone is missing—either because they could not make it, or they have left the family for one reason or another. No matter what the memories remain. The good and bad.
As we relax and drink our Slush, we tell our stories; we realize that no matter how different we are (we live in different States and Countries, have different accents, wear different clothes, prefer different climates, are shaped different, having a variety of hair and eye colors, we may not even have LIKED each other at some point, etc…) WE ARE STILL A FAMILY.
This same group that drinks Slush with us today is the group that cried with us last year, cheered for us last week, prayed for us yesterday and will call us tomorrow to make sure we know they love us. So, yes, I hope there is Grandma Ginger’s Slush in Heaven. Because when it comes time to decide where I will be, I want to be around that loud, crazy group of unique individuals gathered around an old Tupperware bowl sharing stories. That is MY FAMILY.