Tomorrow marks my 25th Thanksgiving, and in those 25 years I have spent all but one with my family. One year we went to Boston to spend it with my brother’s godfather. One year we had a joint meal with my sister-in-law’s family. Then there was the year when I spent the holiday in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere between Salvador, Brazil and Havana, Cuba.
This year should prove to be like most others have been since my brother got married. I’ll drive down to my parents’ house around 9. We’ll turn on the parade and comment on how poorly the singers are lip syncing to the music as they dance in front of Macy’s. We’ll feast on my mom’s famous cinnamon rolls – they aren’t made from scratch with a secret ingredient or anything, they are just one of those simple things that make a holiday special – and sipping hot chocolate as the house fills with the aromas of the meal to come. We don’t go all out with the meal. There’s the usual stuff: turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, bread, stuffing, maybe some pie for desert. Then it’s into the livingroom where we watch movies and rest from our busy lives. We’ll occasionally play a game or two and, if we’re really in the mood, we’ll set up a video projector and one of our 6’x8′ screens (our smallest) and convert the place into our very own personal movie theater. We’ll be nibbling on leftover turkey and bread all day, maybe make a sandwich for dinner, and that will take us into the evening when I’ll hop back into my car and head home.
We aren’t a formal bunch. We don’t get dressed up, we don’t necessarily pull out the fine china, more likely than not we’re gathered around the table in pajamas or sweats. In a way, one of the things we’re thankful for is the opportunity to be comfortable. Growing up as a PK – “pastor’s kid” – there were so many expectations about how we should dress and how we should act. Believe it or not, we would get comments from parishioners about everything from how we dressed to whether or not we ate some of Mrs. So-and-so’s casserole (heaven forbid I don’t like to eat green beans and my mother didn’t force me to have a small portion of everyone’s dish or that my dad couldn’t eat something because he’s diabetic!). So it’s always been nice to just be us.
Our holiday routine has remained pretty much intact through the years. Other than the couple of times when we’ve had an extended family meal everything has pretty much stayed the same. Over the past few years the carving duties have been more shared and I’ve either helped or done it myself. We never have had any Christmas decorations up until, at least, the weekend after Thanksgiving. I like to take them one holiday at a time. Besides, I love the colors and the smells of autumn so much anyway that I want to enjoy them as much as I can rather than slip right into the reds and greens of Christmas. The number of people that already have Christmas lights up amazes me. I even saw one house fully lit by the weekend after Halloween! And that’s just crazy.
So as the meals are prepared, the family and friends gather, and you all begin to reflect on your gratitude this season, I wish you all the Happiest of Thanksgivings! (And watch your back at the malls on Friday!)
How do you spend Thanksgiving? What are some traditions your family follows? What’s changed since you’ve grown up?