The ONE holiday that was about two things, and two things only: family feasting and giving thanks, seems to be disappearing. I would mourn the loss.
Thanksgiving doesn’t require midnight noisemakers, chocolate hearts, egg hunts, fireworks or gift exchanging. No diversions other than football in the yard or on the flat screen.
Thanksgiving Day doesn’t even require much of a schedule. It goes without saying “We’ll eat at 1:00” really means at least 2:00. Who cares? The family cooks are taste testing, and even the folks just hanging out in the kitchen sneak enough Q.A. nibbles to tide them over until Grace has been said.
No schedule means relaxation. It is our day to put everything on “pause.” Interrupting that relaxed vibe with the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping has to be the worst idea of 2012. Do we really need yet another day on which to be a greedy, grabbing, glutton in a retail store? The idea of more, more, more material possessions, seems to me to be in direct conflict with the simple meaning of Thanksgiving. Can’t we commit for just one day with nothing on the agenda but giving thanks and spending time feasting with our favorite people?
Honestly, walking into a Wal-Mart any day of the year is sort of depressing to me. Finding myself in a stinky Wal-Mart (come on, they all have that icky, weird smell) on Thanksgiving Day might just get me picked up and locked up on a Code 5150.
When it comes to tradition, I am sentimental. Aren’t family traditions a part of the reason we enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner so much? Throughout the year, some of us count calories or Weight Watcher points. Almost everyone seems to be eating healthier: reducing their fat, sugar and salt intake; and focusing on eating more fiber, fruits and veggies. However, most of that goes out the window on Thanksgiving Day, as we use recipes from our Mothers and Grandmothers to prepare dinner. Most of these recipes are high in fat and heavy on sugar. They are delicious! It is an acceptable 1-day hall pass for dieters.
I’m not sure why these dishes taste so good. Is it because they are so indulgent after our varying degrees of gastronomic self-denial; or is it because they are being enjoyed in the company of our favorite people? Amid the celebration, these recipes provide a sense of continuity, even before we are aware of it. We can count on them, year after year. They connect us to our extended family when distance separates us. When loved ones have passed away and are missed more deeply during the Holidays, there is a certain comfort & joy to be found in trying to replicate their signature dish, dessert or cookie.
As families grow and change, traditions evolve. Each new member brings his or her own sense of tradition. Some of these traditions may be blended in, or the celebration location may change. An early morning Turkey Trot might be run, lactose-free or gluten-free items may be added to the menu, and the turkey might be deep fried instead of roasted. One year, the hilarious sister and I unwittingly turned Mother’s Classic Mashed Potatoes into Lavender-infused mashed potatoes, when she pumped the dish soap dispenser at the exact moment I was pouring a pot of boiling potatoes into a colander. Some recipes are best left unaltered.
Still, the focus of Thanksgiving remains feasting with family, and just being together. Oh, sure, the gathering may evolve throughout the day into two separate parties: a hen party inside, and the roosters and their cigars outside. That still counts as togetherness.
I think some traditions should remain unchanged, so I offer the following suggestions:
- For vanity’s sake, avoid the stores and their fluorescent lights. You’ll look much better at home in the warm glow of the fire.
- Instead of parking at the mall, and spending cash – Park your fanny and your full belly in a comfy chair and spend time just hangin’ with your loved ones.
- Skip the hunt for the bargains – hunting in the cupboard for Gladware and Ziploc Bags to transport leftovers is challenge enough.
- Forego the battle stampede for the limited number of “Door busters.” You won’t miss it. Stay in and don your battle gear for an evening of Euchre, Poker, and Pictionary or better yet: Mexican Train Dominoes. Trust me, even your sweetest and most mild-mannered loved ones turn will into cutthroat competitors in this game. It will be way more exciting than scoring that TV on sale. That TV and many more will be on sale again in a week, anyway.
Wal-Mart and Best Buy hold no appeal for me, but Target is less than a mile from my house. Before a day of errands or shopping I enjoy making a list, and then throughout the day, I get a ridiculous amount of pleasure from crossing items off that list. So, this Thursday, I guarantee, I’ll definitely be making a list, but this one will only be to count my blessings.
The real truth is, after eating pie; my pants would be too tight to shop comfortably, anyway.
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a day full of blessings, however and wherever you are celebrating!
See you at the mall on Friday.