I know, I know. Thanksgiving is over. If you gauged it by Christmas decorations already jazzing up the scene everywhere you looked shortly after Halloween and stores accelerating the push into Christmas shopping, you would have thought we never celebrated a Thanksgiving holiday.
No, I’m not going to rant about the over commercialization of Christmas or the neglect and relegation of Thanksgiving into a blip in the road to Christmas craziness. Instead, I’m hanging on to Thanksgiving for just a little longer.
A few years ago our home really became an empty nest as youngest son graduated from college, secured a job, and moved to the state next door. Since then, I’ve found myself not wanting to let go of Thanksgiving.
As soon as the turkey and fixings become refrigerator leftovers and the door closes after the last to leave the family gathering, I tend to wax a little melancholy. Or as my friend described it so well, I might suffer from a little ‘post-party-um depression.’
And that’s odd. Because we are a family of traditions. And the tradition at our house is as soon as Thanksgiving is ushered out, we begin decorating for Christmas.
When the kids were growing up and even into their college years, our family tradition was to launch out to a tree farm in search of the perfect for us evergreen tree, chop it down ourselves, and drag it home to decorate. Son and Papa would climb up into the attic and hand down box after box of decorations and we gleefully adorned every nook and cranny of the house with Christmas glitter and glitz.
Yes, the weekend after Thanksgiving is time to haul out the holly at our house! It’s when Christmas songs fill the air as Papa blasts them from the stereo. It’s when red and white lights string their way merrily across the house, garage, and shrubbery. It’s when garlands festoon the front porch, fireplace mantle, and staircase.
It’s when wreaths appear on the windows and doors and candles illuminate the front windows. It’s when the evergreen tree captures it glittery spot in the living room with multi-colored lights and ornaments treasured over the years for the memories they evoke. It’s when the Christmas village nestles under the tree with its lighted houses and tiny yesteryear people. It’s when the appetizing aroma of fresh baked cookies tickles your nose as you step into our home.
It’s tradition, I tell ya! And yet, somehow as each year goes by, I break tradition. First to go was the real honest-to-goodness pine needle shedding tree. An artificial one usurped that freshly cut tradition. Next the Christmas village didn’t find its way out of its storage box. Cookie baking became minimal. And decorating became a chore instead of a joy.
So I sit here amidst a myriad of boxes with a partially decorated home (Papa did his part by putting up the exterior lights and décor and assembled the fake tree) and I wonder why. Every day since Thanksgiving, I crank up holiday songs on my computer and attempt to finish decorating. I chastise myself when it doesn’t get accomplished because I think by now – December 5 – my house should be properly bedecked and adorned with Christmas finery and some cookie baking should be on the agenda.
And it’s not. I could blame the empty nest. I could claim it’s because all of the chicks are married and out of the nest. But that’s not it. We will all be together in our home for a Christmas celebration for a couple of days so you would think that alone would give me motivation to kick some Christmas spirit into gear.
So what is the cause of this malaise? I’m not ready! I truly think we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving long enough or well enough or…something. As the dynamics of our household have changed and Papa and I have…shall we say, matured, I want to spend more time thanking God for His provision. I want to exhibit gratitude for oh so many aspects of my life. Yes, I’ll say it – I want to spend more time counting my blessings.
I don’t want to rush into the mayhem of Christmas craziness that the holiday has become. I want to take my time. I want to slow down and savor the opportunity to give thanks and do so for more than just one day filled with cooking a feast.
This Thanksgiving, we gathered together at our house. Not all of our adult children were able to be here but oldest daughter and son-in-law journeyed home, and my nearby sister and brother-in-law and family consisting of my nephew, his wife, and two little ones all joined us for the bounty at our table. We feasted, we played games, and we all took turns holding my two month old great niece. I want to hang onto that feeling of family and friendship and fondness just a little longer.
And just as if I needed a reminder, I want to share with you what I found on the day after Thanksgiving -that day when, by tradition, we would rush right into the Christmas season by decking the halls. That day after celebrating the one day we set aside to give thanks, we still had snow on the ground. It covered our yard. It covered our deck. In an effort to keep beverages cold all day for our celebration, my nephew set the bottles of soda, sparkling cider, and sparking raspberry limeade out into the snow on our deck.
So on that day after, when everyone returned to their homes and Papa and I were left once again in the empty nest and the frenzy of the Christmas season loomed, I opened the French doors to the deck and saw this (the photo above). Imprints left in the snow from the beverage bottles.
My Thanksgiving leftovers. These imprints made me smile and they made me happy. But even more, they reminded me to keep an attitude of gratitude and take one day at a time giving thanks – prolonging Thanksgiving - and taking it with me into Christmas.
“Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart.” ~ Thomas Fuller