I suppose if you had asked me as a kid, I would have told you my favorite holiday was Christmas. However, looking back at my childhood, the best holiday memories came from Thanksgiving.
First, I grew up in a large extended family. My mom was one of 11 siblings, and I am the oldest of 26 grandkids (though a few weren’t born until I was in college). Thanksgiving Day was a tumultuous affair, with the noise and the activity, the Macy’s parade and the football games. Tables were set up in nearly every room of our house. The kids always ate in the back of the house, often on the stairs. There were never enough chairs, but no one seemed to mind.
And then there was the food. To this day, I believe the “happiest” smell on earth is waking up to the aroma of turkey roasting in the oven. That smell still invokes more joy than any Christmas present I can ever recall. Now, there is a weird tradition that I was quite fond of—I had to open the can of cranberry sauce. Don’t ask me why, but I just loved plopping that jell-o like substance out of the can and slicing it into even pieces.
Sadly, my Thanksgivings as an adult are quite different. My first Thanksgiving with my wife’s family was a quiet affair with the two of us, her parents, and her sister. We sat at the kitchen table. No one watched football. The food was delicious, but I didn’t wake up to the smell of turkey and I didn’t open the cranberry sauce.
Twenty-five years later, the holiday is a bit more boisterous, with grandchild added into the mix. There is a need to set up tables in my sister-in-law’s living room. But there’s still no smell of turkey wafting through my home in the early morning. Football is replaced with reality shows on cable. But even with the deficits, Thanksgiving remains a day I love…a day to be with family, a day to count my blessings. I guess that’s why I’ll never understand the rush to get Thanksgiving over with and get to the Christmas shopping.
This Thursday, I hope you have the opportunity to share in family traditions and build memories for your kids. Christmas WILL get here. Don’t skip Thanksgiving.