When I was a kid, Christmas was THE BEST holiday, followed closely by Halloween and Easter (please note that candy factored quite heavily in all three of these). I mean, what's not to like? Presents. Candy. Dressing up in nice clothes - or costumes. Big family get-togethers. A kid's idea of heaven. And the WORST holiday? Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving was table manners, big turkeys, lots of vegetables, gravy with stuff in it... and rutabaga. I don't know why rutabaga figured so prominently in our family dinners at the various holidays (I think my uncle liked it), but there it was, a bowl of steaming yellow "eeewww" at every gathering, and with Thanksgiving revolving mostly around food and nothing else - well, you can see why it ranked so low on my list of favorite holidays.
At least you got TWO days off of school for this one...
But a funny thing happened on the way to adulthood. It took years and years, but I finally GOT Thanksgiving. It's about being thankful. It's that feeling that lives in your heart and sometimes brings tears to your eyes. And when practiced correctly, you can have Thanksgiving everyday. Because Thanksgiving really ISN'T about table manners and food (or even rutabaga).
It's recognizing the beauty of every day. Revelling in the hugs you get from your child. Feeling the softness of your cats when you pet them, and the enthusiasm of your dog when you look her way. It's knowing that you're safe and warm. That you have enough to eat. That you spend your time doing things that you enjoy and get satisfaction from. It's having the knowledge that allows you to read a good book, cook a good meal, and savor the beginnings and endings in life. It's seeing love in the eyes of your husband and knowing that he sees the same mirrored in your own eyes. It's being grateful for the family that you have, however wonderful or awful they may seem at times, because you love them and they love you. It's missing the people who are not with you and enjoying the ones who are.
Thankfulness is a grown-up emotion. When you are a child, you can fold your hands and thank God for your food, for teacher planning days, and that Jimmy only threatened to put gum in your hair but didn't really do it. But as a child, you are a relatively new person. You don't have all that much to lose because you don't know the value of things. But as an adult, you've been around the block a time or two. You KNOW that people die, that houses get foreclosed on, that there is hate and violence in the world and sometimes you get lucky because they don't touch you as much as they could. You know there are people going to jobs they hate, living with people they don't love, or living a life devoid of love, fun or appreciation.
And you are thankful that you are not one of those people, but the person you are, surrounded by the wonderful life that you have. It may not seem like much to some, but it's heaven to you. That is thankfulness - and what Thanksgiving is really about.
And that makes it the best holiday (now that I'm a grown up and can appreciate that stuff!).
And now, some scenes from my own Thanksgiving:
After dinner, the guys and the kids hung around in the living room. It was a beautiful day and we had the windows open.
While the ladies hung out in the family room and got caught up on "Avatar".
Pop's belly was full, but I think he might have been wondering where the football was. We don't get local channels (ABC, CBS, NBC) where most of the football happens. We play music instead - and Darling Man, his mom and the kids had quite a rowdy jam session.
DIL Patty looked quite dishy in her pretty dress, while Darling Man and SSKurt had an animated discussion in the kitchen.
SSKurt, GDK, & Darling Man - three generations on one couch.
The girls looked so pretty... When it came time to enjoy the pumpkin pie, they did what was necessary to keep it out of their hair.
Since we spent this Thanksgiving with the in-laws, my parents decided to go serve dinner to the homeless in our local shelter. Mom was relieved to not have to cook, and when it was over, relieved to go home, climb into her recliner and sleep the rest of the afternoon. I would imagine that my father felt much the same way.