I am a firm believer in tradition. Every Thanksgiving I would help my mom cook our big meal – I was in charge of the dressing and pies: apple, pecan, pumpkin and surprise. I’m an only child, so the fact that we would have 10 to 15 people for dinner, and more for dessert, meant that we adopted anyone who didn’t have somewhere to go or just preferred to bring a dish instead of cooking the whole meal.

Those guests were family and adopted family (I have one blood aunt, but at least seven women who’ve been my aunts since I could name them so) and sharing a meal with them was very important to me.

Even when I was in college I came home for every Thanksgiving. But there was one time, I believe I was 9, when we were invited to watch the annual Cowboys football game in a suite. Instead of enjoying the new experience, I pouted – like only a pre-teen can – the entire time. In fact, I don’t even remember the game or the suite, just that we didn’t have our usual tradition.

Then I met my husband and we started our own traditions. Since Christmas is important to both our families (and we throw our own Reveillon), we found a way to enjoy that holiday with both families from Dec. 24-26.

But one year we decided to run away from everyone for Thanksgiving to go to Perdido Key. It was glorious. We laid on the beach, read books and enjoyed the hot tub until we were pruney, and then my husband cooked steaks, baked potatoes and asparagus with an amazing bottle of red wine, which we enjoyed on the porch of our condo by candlelight.

We had started our own tradition and have gone back – even to the same condo – every year since. Last year my mom and dad came with us and took part in our tradition. It felt wonderful and like one of the first adult moments of my life, as I shared a tradition with my parents instead of the other way around.

That’s what makes traditions important: the repetition of an action or set of actions until they take on a ritual significance.

Though I still value the traditions I share with my parents (and I’m looking forward to your reading of The Littlest Angel on Dec. 25th, Daddy) I’m excited to continue to create my own and to share my traditions with my family – both blood and adopted for all my years to come.