Old traditions for a new family

The Hartley and Grider holiday table. Photo provided.

By Bruce Hartley
Life Columnist

The next few months will be full of holiday gatherings and will be special for my fiancé Bill and I. We tie the knot on New Year’s Day!

We have been busy setting up and renovating our 1949 bungalow home and are excited to host our first official combined family holiday gatherings. The first step for holiday preparations began with an October garage sale. That step may seem mundane, but it was how we began sorting, cleaning and organizing our home for Thanksgiving.

Hosting our first Thanksgiving together as an engaged couple is a big deal for us two dads. We contacted our six grown children and shared our vision during October. Our plan included a big combined Thanksgiving dinner featuring a mixture of traditional dishes from both sides of our family. This holiday celebration will allow us to demonstrate how we are merging family holiday traditions.

The Brady Bunch may have been a big hit in the 70s, but we think we are the “B & B Bunch” of 2019, and Thanksgiving will full of food, parades, football, fun, and laugher at our Claremore home.

My side of the family will include my mother along with my son, daughter and daughter in law. I will be using a few of my mother’s recipes that include her special turkey preparation and a gelatin salad recipe that is passed down from her mother. I may even attempt to make a homemade pie that is a recipe that is passed down from my grandpa. I am also making a sweet potato dish that is simply scrumptious that I’ve been making for the past five years.

Bill will be preparing a baked ham, his famous deviled eggs along with some special desserts. He is a food broker by day and is the best chef I know!  

His family includes his son, two daughters and grandson. When Bill cooks, he loves making an abundance of dishes, and we always have leftovers for days.

Our children will be helping make dishes such as green bean casserole, cheesy corn with some relish and vegetable trays. We are blessed to have a large country kitchen that allows us all to gather and enjoy cooking together.

Besides food, Bill and I enjoy sharing our freshly decorated home on Thanksgiving. Some people disagree with decorating a home for Christmas before Thanksgiving. We believe that Thanksgiving is the kickoff to Christmas. We will have a Christmas tree set up in almost every room in our home just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

We will use our weekends in November decorating. Holiday decorations are another big tradition for both sides of our new family. Our families already know Bill and I go over the top with Christmas decorations! The movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a favorite film of ours, but we promise not to be as wild as the Griswold family!

Family traditions are different from family to family. Food and decorations are just a small part of family traditions. We may not be a “traditional family” according to some people. We are just two dads, and we love each other and our kids unconditionally.

We are proud that we can bring our merged Hartley and Grider family together to create new and special holiday memories and traditions. Creating these traditions are important to us as we move toward our wedding day. By the way, we are only eight weeks away from our big day.  

Happy Thanksgiving from the B & B Bunch. 

Copyright The Gayly. 11/24/2019 @ 4:30 p.m. CST