I'm not a fan of Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately, that feeling has started extending into Christmas, too.
Probably not for the reasons you might be thinking though...that I'm just grumpy, "Scroogie" and an all around bah-humbug-stick-in-the-mud.
I have wonderful memories of the holidays...Thanksgiving through Christmas...from when I was a child. My mother turned our house into a Christmas wonderland. There were family celebrations with both my dad's and my mom's sides of the family. I have lots of aunts and uncles and cousins. My maternal grandparent's house was always full to the brim. There is a photograph that comes to mind of a grandpa and grandpa's living room at the farm packed full of cousins (babies up to young adults), the Christmas tree in the back and everyone waiting to exchange gifts. If I close my eyes I can smell all the delicious food cooking in the tiny little kitchen. No one minded the lack of space and if it was nice outside most of kids were playing in the barn, outside exploring or climbing trees. My dad's side of the family has always known how to throw a good party. Always. I was the youngest of all the cousins on dad's side so I didn't always fit in with all the "big kids" but it was still okay.
When Scott and I got married things got a little more complicated. Our early years of marriage were spent dividing and conquering. Thanksgiving was the most difficult since it was only a "one day holiday". We had dinner with one side of the family and dessert with the other side of the family. Our first Thanksgiving together we started early out early in the morning driving 265 miles from place to place to place, ending up back home that night. We didn't have kids so it worked. Christmas was a little easier...Christmas Eve was with one side, Christmas Day with the other.
But then Parker came along and it went past complicated...but it still managed to work out.
It wasn't until ten years ago...Thankgiving 2003...that we finally said, "Enough!" and our whole perspective about the holidays...Thanksgiving through Christmas...changed. Here's why:
Faith was born just five weeks and three days earlier and had been in the hospital that entire time. She had already been under anesthesia several times for her retinal cancer, both eyes receiving multiple rounds of heavy laser treatments and she had received her first two rounds of chemotherapy. After what seemed like five months instead of five weeks, we were finally able to bring our sweet baby girl home. Parker, who was just shy of five at the time, was SO excited to finally have his baby sister home and to get to know her without the surroundings of the neonatal intensive care unit, doctors, nurses and machines. I remember Scott saying many times, "I can't wait to have our whole family home and all under one roof."
Faith came home on November 25, 2003.
Thanksgiving was on November 27, 2003.
That year we made the decision...firmly...that we appreciated the Thanksgiving invitations, but we were bowing out. We would be spending the day at home...JUST THE FOUR OF US, thank you very much!
We completely bucked tradition that day. No turkey...because turkey is okay, but not necessarily our favorite. No stuffing or mashed potatoes or gravy or cranberries or green bean casserole or all the other over-indulgent Thanksgiving menu items.
Instead we made our absolute favorite...pizza. Homemade pizzas.
We stayed in lounging clothes all day.
And we got to know ourselves as a family.
Parker held his baby sister as often as he could. He laid next to her on a blanket on the floor and played with her little fingers and toes and talked to her like any good big brother would. He asked to be allowed to give her bottles. In his words, he "took good care."
And Scott and I sat back and watched the miracle of our family finally beginning at home.
It was the most content and beautiful holiday we have ever had because every.single.second. of that day was full of "true" thanksgiving...hearts over-flowing for all the blessings God had given us. In the midst of all the pain that cancer brings...there was absolute pure joy and thanks for all the things cancer hadn't taken away.
What it boils down to is that ten years ago we experienced a Thanksgiving like none-other. One that set aside the post-card perfect world and welcomed in the "raw-this-isn't-what-we-expected-but-my-goodness-don't-we-have-much-to-be-thankful-for" kind of Thanksgiving. We experienced a Thanksgiving that raised the bar...and hasn't been met since.
But every year Scott and I say..."Someday... Someday we will escape for the five beautiful days of Thanksgiving...just the four of us all under one roof."
My hope is that roof is just steps away from a warm beach...but we'll work on logistics when "someday" actually arrives.
Wishing you a peaceFULLYsimple day.