Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce…I love ALL of it! Homemade is the best but I will even take a frozen dinner with this magical combo. And while I love the food of Thanksgiving, it’s the idea of being thankful and spending time with family that is the best part of the holiday.
As most of you know, it was after recording my own father as he shared his memories and stories that I started Remembered Well. This precious time with my dad is irreplaceable. Hearing his stories again now that he’s passed away gives me continued connectedness with him. During those conversations, my dad shared that his favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. My dad, like me, enjoyed food. At first, I assumed it was because of the delicacies on display that he tagged Thanksgiving as his favorite holiday. That wasn’t the reason. My dad loved Thanksgiving the most because it was a time when the family got together without the pressure of gift giving and perfection. Thanksgiving is about being together, conversing, and sharing our gratitude for all of our bounty.
Christmas is magical. There is no doubt about that! However, there’s a pressure that comes with Christmas. Maybe that’s simply my perspective and certainly a perspective shared by retailers as they attempt to sell us everything from napkin ring holders to holiday themed blankets to insure that our Christmas is “perfect.” For some of us, Christmas is weighty with expectation. Unfortunately, the true meaning of Christmas is often lost in the countdown calendars and endless visits to the mall. Then there is unassuming Thanksgiving. Sure, you’ll find a few turkey centerpieces on display and I even drove by a turkey flag planted in someone’s yard the other day. However, Thanksgiving is mostly about food, family, and thankfulness.
My husband and I usually host Thanksgiving at our home. We started this tradition early in our marriage. We weren’t up to hosting Christmas at the time and we did not have children to provide as a lure. We cut our hosting teeth on Thanksgiving. It is less pressure if you don’t count the desire for a juicy bird. Thanksgiving is one of the two times per year that we dust off our wedding china and put it to use. It sure looks pretty. That is, it looks pretty while dining and not so pretty while stacked up alongside the other many holiday dishes requiring handwashing.
The attendance size has ebbed and flowed over the years. Our children are now grown and gone and are making decisions about where to spend their Thanksgivings. I suppose before long, we will hand over the hosting reins. I am not sure whether I’m excited or sad by that thought. Regardless of who attends or where we spend our Thanksgiving, the right people are always there. We look around the table and see people we love. People we are grateful for. Stuffing and cranberry sauce and a juicy bird are fantastic but those are simple pleasures compared to the enduring pleasure of family and friends gathered around for the big feast. My dad made a strong case for Thanksgiving as a favored holiday. It’s easy to understand why he felt that way.
This Thanksgiving, look around you – who is at your table? Who can you engage in conversation? Who can you share all that you are grateful for? Tell someone that you love them and are grateful he or she is in your life. Sadly, you never know when the guests will no longer come. Some of you will be spending your first Thanksgiving without a mother or father, aunt or uncle this year. That’s never easy and my heart goes out to you. We only have a limited number of Thanksgivings. Soak in the memories and enjoy this beautiful holiday.