Thanksgiving is one of my absolute favorite holidays. You get to eat amazing food, watch football, visit with family and don’t have to worry about a gift exchange. But mainly, I love the holiday because it makes you realize the importance of traditions. Family traditions.

Growing up with divorced parents, I never really felt like I had a “tradition” – as one holiday was with my mom and the next was with dad. I never went to the same place. I didn’t sit in the same chair and play with the same kids. I didn’t eat the same food and I didn’t hug the same people. It was different. Every year.

Now that I am grown up, I realize that the rotation was my tradition. The change of scenery, food, and people was my tradition as a child. Which probably explains my ability to adapt to change well. I don’t hate change. I embrace it. I love doing new things, meeting new people, and eating different foods. It also taught me to be thankful for people you see once a year. Because odds are you won’t see them the next year. So hug them hard and long. More importantly, laugh every second you get.

I learned all of this through my tradition.

When I met Justin, his family was full of traditions. One in particular was eating oysters at Thanksgiving. Um, oysters? Last time I checked they looked like giant snot bubbles. No thank you.

“You aren’t going to get welcomed into the family unless you eat a raw oyster, Ashley,” I remember Justin saying. “We do it every year, and you don’t want to be the only one who doesn’t eat one.”

Oh no. I am toast. I’ve only been dating this boy for three months and he wants me to eat an oyster? And a raw one at that? I’m definitely out of the family. And I am hardly in yet.

“And really, you just open up your throat and let it slide back,” he said. “You don’t have to chew it.”

“Well, I won’t be chewing it or swallowing it,” I said. “Because I am not eating one of those giant boogers!”

Four years later, I am addicted to oysters. Eat them every single year at Thanksgiving. In fact, we even just bought some for my family’s Thanksgiving meal.

The best part about traditions is sharing them. So whether your tradition is eating raw oysters or changing places each year, I hope you embrace your traditions, even if you don’t realize they exist yet. You will one day.

Travel safely and love graciously.

Oh and, GO COWBOYS! =)

Much love,

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