Before it’s even time to thaw the turkey, I find myself bombarded with images of Christmas. My daughter wants to skip Thanksgiving altogether and get on to the eggnog days. She is a fool for eggnog. I have to disguise it in the fridge so I can get a cup in edgewise. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the Christmas season…just not yet.
We’ve got important business to attend to first. The Thanksgiving Feast is a sight to behold. Tables groaning with sumptuous foods made from treasured recipes that we pretend our grandmas didn’t just crib off the back of the semisweet chocolate chip package. It’s the only time of the year Jello comes into play, cleverly disguised as salad. It’s a celebration of gluttony in which we thank the Lord for four kinds of pie, three kinds of roasted meat, two kinds of dressing, and the one thing the kids will eat: rolls.
Thanksgiving brings the family together around the table and the TV, preferably in the same room. It’s hard to digest all that turkey without the comforting smack of football helmets and the lulling roar of a crowd who “got to go to the game instead of being stuck at home with (insert name of elderly relative) snoring in the BarcaLounger”.
Thanksgiving, of course, changes according to what stage of life you’re in. That’s what makes it so interesting and worth a looksee before rushing headlong to the Christmas tree farm. Before I entered into the blessed state of matrimony, Thanksgiving was a sort of progressive eating event that started around 10:30 AM and ended four houses and a passel of relatives later at suppertime. We feasted, watched football, played football, and shot every kind of gun you could think of. The traditions took a decidedly different tack once I left home. The dinners involved cloth napkins and round robin statements of thankfulness before the menfolk could slink away to watch the game.
What remained the same, however, was the crying. Someone always squalls at Thanksgiving. Some years it’s out of frustration–like the year my grandma forgot the rolls and about smoked us out of the house. Some years it’s out of the sadness of an empty place at the table, but most years somebody will get weepy over the sheer weight of family. We’re thankful for all of it: the good, the bad, and the just plain belongingness.
Nope, you won’t find me hauling out the holly until after the Iron Bowl. I won’t want to deck the halls for another whole week…it won’t even be December yet, for goodness sake, but the girls will be impossible to hold back. How can they wait with the radio station looping that gravelly “Santa Claus is comin’ to town (on a bender)” song and every TV commercial hawking some overpriced holiday wonder, or the endless lineup of crappy, sappy all’s well that ends well movies flanking yet another Harry Potter marathon?
Back in the dark ages when I was growing up, my mother never decorated squat until December. She mellowed a bit in her later years, getting totally into themed Christmas trees and breakable ornaments. I used to race my brother to hog the chocolate in the advent calendar. Poor Baby Jesus would be robbed blind by December 14th, and then the blame game began. Talk about some knockdown drag-outs! It was SO HARD to be good for three whole weeks. It wasn’t Christmas without a complete meltdown and the threat of not only no toys from Santa, but the disappearance of the ones we had already but didn’t appreciate. Nothing straightened me up faster than the idea of an all-clothes Christmas, which I actually got once.
That’s why I don’t really want to roast any chestnuts quite yet. Are you kidding? Five weeks of you better watch out, or even worse, that creepy elf on a shelf? That’s too much pressure for even the best of kids. Instead, I’ll give them a heaping helping of family along with enough rolls to keep them from starving when they sneak their servings of casserole to the dogs. I’ll give them lazy afternoons, football games, and by golly…some target practice. We’ll hold off on the tinsel, glitter, and twinkling lights just long enough for them to get a good, long look at what family really is.
Christmas will keep another couple of weeks and be quite merry in the making.
Thanksgiving, that literal and metaphorical smorgasbord of love, will not be overshadowed on my watch.
May you and yours have a very happy Thanksgiving!
*This post expresses the author’s opinions (it being a blog and all) on celebrating the holiday season and in no way looks down its nose at those of you who are already rocking your jingle bells.