by Sneha Goud

As another Thanksgiving and Christmas creep closer, I am reflecting on my family’s holiday celebrations over the years.

My mom was a public school teacher so she understood the importance of incorporating little traditions around the holidays – always having a costume to wear to school for Halloween parades, setting up a Christmas tree, and going around the table to say what we are thankful for at Thanksgiving.  Of course, my mom roasted a chicken with Indian spices for the meal instead of turkey and our side dishes were never straight from a can or box but the tradition still felt “American.” I am still grateful for her making an effort for us as kids so we wouldn’t feel left out.

But as we grew older, the traditions seemed less important.  When she complained I never helped set up the Christmas tree when I entered college, I protested, “We aren’t even Christian!”  My brother and I started waking up later on Thanksgiving Day, no longer eager to help make place cards and rolling our eyes when asked what we were thankful for (in a particularly moody teenage year, I mentioned some Native Americans spend the day in mourning).

When I think about starting traditions with my own family (far, far in the future), I wonder if I will do the same as my mom – adopt American traditions for my kids so they fit in with their peers.  Of course, their childhood will likely be far different from mine and maybe they won’t feel left out at all.  I do like the idea of incorporating the whimsical parts of some Christian holidays, though I intend to skip American-style materialism and gluttony. And I want to teach them the religious meaning behind major Indian holidays too.

Thanksgiving is only a few days away and this year, my family is adopting a new tradition. My parents are coming to visit me at my new apartment in Chicago.  We will be eating Thanksgiving dinner in a Devon Avenue Indian restaurant, going to the theatre, and taking walks in Millennium Park.  And as my brother says every Thanksgiving, we will be most thankful for the family being together.

Norman Rockwell image courtesy of