Thanksgiving: a time for family, friends, football, and food… turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and of course pizza. What’s the matter? Don’t you have pizza on your Thanksgiving table?
Our Thanksgiving pizza tradition started years ago when I invited Bob, Diane, and their family to our house for Thanksgiving. They had recently moved to Connecticut and would be alone for the holiday. When I asked Bob’s children what they wanted for thanksgiving dinner his teenaged son yelled, “Pizza”! This drew a rebuke from Bob. He apologized to me and informed his son that pizza was not a traditional food for Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Day came and I set a large pizza on the table, near the turkey. Bob and Diane were stunned. My in-laws were shocked. All the kids were ecstatic. It was a first. Some one commented that pizza wasn’t traditional… and invoked the Lord’s forgiveness for what I’d done. “Be careful. You are tampering with sacred Thanksgiving traditions!”
Many things we take for granted were not at the original Thanksgiving. Sorry, there was no pumpkin pie, stuffing, or sweet potatoes. And no football games or forks! Forks? There were no forks at the first Thanksgiving. They were not in use at the time!
We all create traditions. For example, when our family learned that many international students at the nearby university stayed on campus for the holiday, we started inviting a few to join us for Thanksgiving.
They came from countries like China, Egypt, India, Pakistan, and Taiwan We would include a dish from their countries at the meal as a way to honor them. Our pizza grew into many other dishes. Sharing their stories about life and foods in their country became part of the tradition. Great memories!
You’ve seen traditions in your work life—these are the “policies, procedures, rules and regulations” that once organized us later taking on a life of their own. Some of them are sacred. For example, I tried consolidating engineering reports into a single format. One report that took 4 hours weekly to complete went to 5 people who filed it away without reading it! I asked to eliminate it and was told, “We can’t, that’s SVP X’s report.” Seemed strange since he had retired nearly a year ago!
So, what do traditions have to do with Flawless Consulting? In Flawless Consulting Skills workshops, we confront “organizational traditions”—the choices people make about the roles they assume and the conversations they have.
Some traditions may hinder growth—individual and corporate. The workshop helps people see the alternatives to their “traditional roles.”
Ask yourself a few questions like these to confront your own traditions:
What is the original purpose of our tradition?
What makes it important us?
How does this tradition strengthen us and add value to our lives and work?
What appeals to us or concerns us about this tradition?
Now if you find yourself still thinking, “This is silly. We would never have pizza at Thanksgiving,” it may be time to ask yourself, “Why not? Maybe you could make the pizza with turkey and cranberries! Remember it’s not about the food… it’s about sharing the food with others, giving thanks, and experiencing fellowship.
So, this year at your Thanksgiving dinner, add something new, something unusual, give thanks to God, and bless your family. That day I’ll send you my greetings from our home, where we’ll be eating a seafood pizza as part of our celebration. Who knows? Maybe you’ll add that to your traditional Thanksgiving!
I’d love to hear about your traditions. Drop me a note. Let me know how you celebrate.
Charles L Fields was a highly acclaimed Senior Consultant at Designed Learning and a lover of life. He traveled the world by car, rail, plane, and ship, watched the sunrise on Croagh Patrick, and set on Victoria Peak, weathered a perfect storm in the Pacific, bartered for a darbuka in the Grand Bazaar, prayed at Lord Nelson’s Sarcophagus, ate lunch in the oldest restaurant in the world. His prolific and thought-provoking writing contributed to the design and re-design of many DL products, including Flawless Consulting, Empowerment, and Stewardship. Charlie shared his passion for this body of work in over 25 countries. His impact is a blessing.