I always thought Thanksgiving got shortchanged when compared to some of the other holidays. In fact, it seems that most people spend much more preparation for Halloween than for Thanksgiving. Just think about it—people buy candy, costumes and plan elaborate parties or “trunk or treat” events. I heard on the news that Americans spent $370 million on pet costumes this year. In fact, nationwide we spend a staggering $8 billion on Halloween.
Before the trick-or-treaters change out of their costumes, the stores are arranging elaborate displays of Christmas items. There’s hardly a pilgrim or turkey to be seen.
Thanksgiving is not considered so much a holiday in its own right as it is a kickoff to the Christmas season. Most people spend their Thanksgiving putting up the Christmas tree, stringing lights, and this year, it seems that many retailers are getting a jump on black Friday by beginning Thursday evening. Seriously? What are they thinking?
It seems that we can’t spend a complete twenty-four hours being thankful. We have to rush right past being thankful to the shopping frenzy. I can tell you right now, there is absolutely zero chance of me shopping on Thursday evening, or Black Friday either, for that matter. Nope, I plan to spend my Thanksgiving Day doing exactly what a person is supposed to do on Thanksgiving—watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, eat myself into a stupor, and maybe do something really exciting and unusual—take a nap.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays since the days when I used the outline of my hand to draw turkeys and color them with bright crayons. Our classrooms at school were decorated with autumn leaves, pilgrims, and Native Americans that we blissfully and without malice referred to as Indians
For years, our family used Thanksgiving as a reunion time. I loved the holiday—getting together with my brothers and sisters, Mom and Dad. When I close my eyes, I can see our family circled, holding hands as my brother Tommy asked the blessing before we lined up to fill plates from a table groaning beneath the weight of food, food, and more food. Thanksgivings from years past form a tapestry of fall flavors and fragrances in my memories. There was always that nagging feeling that beloved family members might be missing at the next gathering.
After Dad died and Mom moved out of the family home, for several years, we converged on my brother who lived there. Eventually, we rotated the holiday among us “kids” and decided to have it earlier in the year. So, in essence, we celebrated Thanksgiving at my sister’s house in October this year.
Jim is one of those missing from those family holidays now, but still I am thankful that we had almost thirty-four years together. I’m thankful that I learned unconditional love when I was Jim’s caregiver, but that I also received unconditional love from him before the disease took him away.
I still observe the day and it is special to me, although the meal has completely changed from the traditional turkey, dressing, and dinner for few an intimate group of fifty or so. It doesn’t matter how we celebrate, as long as we can take one day of the year to be thankful and reflect on life, family, and the blessings that come into our lives.
There is nothing in this world as precious as family. All other holidays seem to get lost in the process of celebrating, but Thanksgiving is more laid back. Mentally, we can still go “over the river and through the woods” to a more peaceful frame of mind.