Less than 2 weeks until Thanksgiving, which doubles as the starting gun to the Christmas Season.
I’m a little obsessive over the winter holidays. My sister once said that she is never “done” preparing for Christmas; she simply admits defeat at some point on Christmas Eve and begins preparing for next year. I completely relate.
There are 2 reasons that the holiday celebrations are so important to me. The first is that Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were the happiest days I remember from my childhood. A busy kitchen making holiday food, parades and decorations and new dresses, records on the stereo and pictures taken. They were SPECIAL days. At least until someone got drunk and started a feud that would rage loud and long, which was as much a holiday tradition as the turkey. Hey, our family wasn’t perfect, but it was always entertaining.
I want to recreate SPECIAL days for my family; ones that are remembered long after I’m gone. I want the pictures to bring back memories and stories and laughter.
Like many women of my generation, wonderful holidays are a way to express devotion to my family. My children haven’t had what you’d call a traditional upbringing. They didn’t have extended family around; they’ve dealt with divorce; adjusted to relocations; transitioned the family dynamic as step-parents came into the picture. They have a Mom who would be described as harsh on even her best day, more so now that they’re adults than when they were kids. I travel a lot, give much of my energy to my job, and am not always there to offer a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. The holidays are my way of saying “You’re still the most important thing to me.”
The second reason is that I’m just weird.
So, my Thanksgiving menu has been prepared and tweaked and the grocery list double checked. My calendar is out. I’m sketching out schedules for wreath making, and tree trimming, and baking, and hanging the giant Santa picture. I’m researching Thanksgiving centerpieces and table-scapes.
A real life Norman Rockwell scene? Not quite. While I’ve broken the drunken rage traditions, there is no lack of bickering and sniping and hurt feelings at our holiday gatherings. This year will be no different. There are already bets being made about whether or not one of my daughters will show up; my son-in-law will be wound tight as a spring and speak less than 10 words throughout the day, a result of a very shaky relationship with “our side” of the family; I will over analyze every word that’s said, resulting in more than one snarky comment.
It’s not perfect, but it’s what we’ve got. I hope that years from now, the food, the laughter, and hopefully this year’s FABULOUS centerpiece will come up in the “remember when” conversations more than the malfunctions of the day. I hope they look back and realize that no matter what didn’t get done, what pies got burned, what verbal venom got unleashed over the green bean casserole, that what I was really trying to do was say “You’re still the most important thing, and I love you.”