Thursday, December 2, 2010


Big Boy came home this week with something called "Thanksgiving Homework" from his second grade class.

This consisted of a two-page (double-sided) sheet with some fairly incursive questions about what he had done for T-giving and things like his personal favorite sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of the holiday. Oh, and he had to draw a family tree.The question that stumped us, though, was regarding "family traditions".

Because, you see, we're the very worst sort of rootless, mongrel Americans. Homogenized, pasteurized, bland...our families got to this continent and dropped their old customs and mores like a live grenade.

And we have so far successfully resisted the late trend for "re-traditionalizing" families and holidays. We gesture towards the occasion, but, really, I am an utter pagan and Mojo, who does randomly lurch towards some sort of holiday spirit now and then, is really too slothful to complete the effort.

So we sat there, the three of us; the Boy poised with his pencil and his shining evening face looking for parental guidance, and my bride and I, utterly clueless. Bereft. Vacant of inspiration. Utterly gobsmacked.We could not think of a single, solitary family "tradition" - for Thanksgiving, or for any other holiday, for that matter. We were adrift in a sea of postmodern American anomie; we had no traditions.

Finally, in the way my mind always works, it drifted from trying to think of a family tradition to the notion of tradition in general and from there to historic quotes regarding tradition, and from there to Winston Churchill. And that's where I came upon a suggestion for the Peep.

"Rum, buggery, and the lash?"

Mojo and I were forcibly struck by the likely reaction of Peep's very dignified second-grade teacher confronted by this as a family tradition, and spent the next four minutes or so snorting and giggling.

The Peep was NOT amused. He had no idea what the three things were, but he knew that his parents were being irresponsible, and refused to write it down. I think he settled for "Eating Thanksgiving dinner with family".Smart boy.

I suspect that if one of our children turns out to be a serial murderer or a Wikileaker no one at the elementary school will be surprised. We're such bad parents.

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