The Holiday Haul

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Halloween is but a memory of crisp weather, warm apple cider and far too many peanut butter cups. Now, two of my favorite holidays are on the horizon - Thanksgiving and Christmas. The reality is I love just about any occasion that brings my loved ones to one place.

The Townsend family is a close-knit group of six - Mom, Dad and four children, all of us grown up now.

My dad used to drive us kids crazy with his lectures about looking out for each other and reminding us the house was "built for training, not entertaining." We took that to mean our modest home didn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but it had all we needed for a solid foundation and start in life.

All of this rings true with me now that I am a mother and live closer to my childhood home in Cincinnati. My career as a broadcast journalist came with the understanding that it would entail a nomadic lifestyle. After I graduated from The Ohio State University, I moved back to Cincinnati to start my career. From there it was on to Kansas City, Chicago and now back again to Columbus.

It really is no big deal for adults to do all that moving but once you add children, each move is a major deal. This becomes especially true during the holidays because you have to share the time and the love.

Our family alternates Thanksgiving and Christmas between paternal and maternal grandparents. Because both my mom and my mother-in-law are "only" children, they are quite used to having things their way. But so far, the alternating tradition that my husband Murvin and I created to make both mothers (and fathers) happy is working out well.

Our son Ian, of course, loves it. Our only child spends time with his cousins, uncles, aunts and both sets of "grands." And yes, he basks in the glory of being the only boy in the bunch, which means he is showered with manly gifts and goodies galore.

Travel has truly become a tradition - which means we sometimes skip traditions. Last year, for example, there was no Thanksgiving turkey. We were in Texas and that meant beef - for Thanksgiving dinner.

As you might expect, flexibility is also on our list of traditions. There is a benefit to being malleable during the holidays: We aren't trapped in traditions but have become open to creating new ones and treasuring the old and familiar ones.

As of this writing, we are still working out where we'll go this year for the holidays. But I know that as long as there is family and food, I'm good and very grateful - no matter where we have to travel.