Traditions Differ, But All Involve Family

November 21, 1990|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

A family gathered for a feast of turkey and pumpkin pie is the Currier and Ives vision for tomorrow's Thanksgiving celebration.

And while most strive for a traditional holiday, the definition of tradition changes with each person you ask.

Distance separates some from family. Others choose to celebrate with close friends.

"I used to go to my father's house in Connecticut, but the traffic has gotten too bad," said Dan Duderow of Baltimore, adding that he hadn't really made plans for the day.

But most plan to spend the day with family.

Lloyd Helt, mayor of Sykesville, will be spending his first Thanksgiving with his new family -- bride, Ruth, and her daughter, Martha -- at his sister's home in Willow Grove, Pa.

Helt, who is the fourth of five children, said his wife's family -- consisting of her and her brother -- is small in comparison.

"I'll be introducing Ruth and Martha to a family with uncles and aunts and cousins, like I have enjoyed in my life," he said.

A gathering of about 15 people seated at various tables in the rooms is the Helt tradition, he said.

"Thanksgiving is the family holiday in the Helt clan," he said. "We celebrate Christmas within our nuclear families."

"The kids always have their own table," he said. "I don't think I got to sit at the big table until I was about 25."

The family customarily invites someone who is alone for the holiday.

"My mother always has a tradition of inviting someone who has no one else to celebrate Thanksgiving with," Helt said.

School Superintendent R. Edward Shilling also will spend time with his extended family this holiday.

With his wife, Dory, and their three grown children, they will be following their tradition of visiting his wife's family, he said.

Shilling's daughters, Nancy and Kathy, have followed the family tradition of teaching, while his son, Andrew, attends Salisbury State University on the Eastern Shore.

"We're a pretty tight family and we really take advantage of these types of opportunities," Shilling said. "It'll be a fairly small group of 12 to 14."

Small to Doris Zimmerman maybe.

This Taneytown resident said she will be preparing dinner for 60 of her in-laws tomorrow.

"I've been doing this for the last two years," she said. "My one sister-in-law used to do it, but she can't any more, so I started having it."

A traditional family dinner for Eileen Fisher of the county's Economic Development office will involve spending time with her immediate family and a couple of close friends.

"I used to like it when I went to Thanksgiving dinner, but it's equally fun now that dinner is coming to me," said the single mother of two.

Although Fisher spent last Thanksgiving in Cambridge, Mass., with some friends, she says she is happy to return to a more traditional holiday.

"I take great comfort in traditions, although I'm not afraid of breaking out of them when the occasion calls for it," she said. "Traditions are like rules. When you know them, you can feel free to break them."

Fisher said she will prepare a customary meal even though she is becoming a vegetarian.

"It's going to be a very traditional Thanksgiving spread, which is a great relief to my children," she said. "They were afraid there wouldn't be a turkey on the table.

"Although I probably wouldn't eat it, I'll make it anyway," she added.

"There are some traditions you just don't fool around with."

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