Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Don't Like Thanksgiving

There. I've admitted it. I am not that "into" Thanksgiving. I am a veritable Thanksgiving Grinch.

I grew up without it.
I don't particularly care for turkey.
The settlers brought smallpox, not good will, to the natives.

And frankly, with tongue somewhat in cheek I ponder the idea that it has become the one occasion wherein blatant misogyny is still condoned, institutionalized, perhaps even celebrated (mental soundtrack: Topol as Tevye singing, "Traditio-o-o-o-o-on, Tradition!"): guys with drinks in front of the football game, women in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove. Hmph. (I know, I know - lots of guys do a lot, perhaps even most, of the work to pull off Thanksgiving. I really am half-joking.)

I am on call for Thanksgiving. I offer to take Thanksgiving call every year. I am having a small pre-Thanksgiving dinner with my children tonight - baked ham with a sweet, autumn-spice glaze and a side of stuffing (no poultry). Tomorrow I'll be at the hospital till evening, then with any luck I can take call from home for the rest of the night and spend some time with family.

I am, in the end, a Christmas person through and through. Thanksgiving is just a non-entity for me. Once dreaded Halloween is over, my Christmas preparations begin.

I absolutely love Advent, liturgically and otherwise. Advent is already here for me even though it doesn't officially start till Sunday.

Inspired by my friend's sister's blog Slow Christmas and this post about constructing your own personal advent calendar, I have already begun my slowed-down, drawn-out celebration of my favorite season of the year and the only holiday, really, that I enjoy. It's amazing how doing one beloved, celebratory thing each day can bring such happiness.

I have
-listened to Christmas music
-lit a Christmas-scented candle ("Christmas Tree" by Village Candle Co.)
-sent a Christmas card
-sung a Christmas song
-bought cute holiday socks for my daughter
-drunk a mug of peppermint-flavored hot cocoa
-lit a cozy fire and snuggled with my Hunny in front of it
-seen a friend from college whom I don't get to see very often

And before the season passes I hope to
-watch a Christmas movie (or two, or three...)
-attend a Christmas concert, play, or dance performance
-read a Christmas story
-maybe even write a Christmas story
-trim a tree
-take a walk under a light snow
-cook a meal that brings people together
-wrap gifts
-see more friends from long ago and/or far away

I love Christmas because it re-teaches me every year how to live each moment fully and let my heart be filled with gratitude for ordinary moments made extraordinary by wonder, mindfulness, reverence, warmth, generosity, and love.

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and much happiness in the celebrations that truly move your hearts and give you joy.


Dr. Bill Irwin said...

Just to add to your stack of non-traditional holiday anecdotes:

Every year I spend the day making a HUGE Thanksgiving meal while Lisa relaxes. I love to cook and I especially love to cook for her. Whether it's just for the two or us or for a house full of people, something about preparing that beautiful, colorful, healthy meal (it really can be if you do it right!) makes me really appreciate how lucky we are to be able to have and share a meal like that.

Since I'm a college professor I have the day off (sort of - I'll be preparing final exams for three classes) but Lisa as a pharmacist is working at the hospital until 11 PM. We'll actually be having our dinner at nearly midnight tomorrow night (we opted for that over rushing it in the morning) but I wouldn't trade sharing that meal together and seeing the look on her face as she bites into the turkey and mashed potatoes for anything in the world.

The Girl said...

I love Christmas, too, even though I am not a practicing Christian.
Enjoy your small and cosy Thanksgiving - it sounds lovely. :)

T. said...

Dr. Irwin - What a beautiful description of a beautiful shared moment! That's definitely a gift to be thankful for. Thanks for putting a smile on my face today.

GWAS - thank you! I believe there's a universal yearning for, and love of, hope and light in the midst of darkness. As Auntie Mame said, "We need a little Christmas, right this very minute..." So I think I'm going to try and make time for a little Christmas / Hannukah / Diwali / Kwanzaa each day, if only by lighting my fragrant Christmas candle and taking a deep, relaxing breath.

rlbates said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your readers!

Lisa Johnson said...

Happy pre-Christmas! ; )

Jo said...

Happy Celebrations - no matter what they are :-)

Christmas is going to be a bit odd for us this year - in a new country on the other side of the world (it seems wrong to have decorations up when it is over 20 degrees outside!). But those pistachio cookies look amazing, and I think that I shall make some as a substitute for Christmas cake :-D

Jg. for FatScribe said...

Love your posts ... they're always so very thoughtful and from the heart. The reason I have (over the last 10 years or so) become a HUGE Thanksgiving aficionado and enjoyer of this holiday, is indeed because it is so uniquely American.

(one quick sidebar, i LOVE Christmas, and listen to the holiday tunes starting in October. we -- my two sons and i -- really do appreciate its deep spiritual implications and the millennia of a worldview that has literally altered the course of history)

Thanksgiving, for me, takes a step away from the post-modern commercialism that retailers from around the globe have arrogated unto themselves regarding Christmas. I find that while there are some "American football nutters" who flip on "the game" and shove a hand in their pants and grunt for another beer, there are many, many more families who hold hands around a table set with the love and deft touch of a woman's (or the occasional man's) grace and influence (so important for American families to see mom in this role), revealing to all a cornucopia of the physical blessings God has bestowed on our nation and families.

And, where there are families in need, I see, as I did this year, families donating monies and time to local grocery stores, and churches, and missions acting as intermediaries to provide Thanksgiving meals to these needy families better than my earliest and fondest memories of the holiday.

Thanksgiving, too, is rich in historical meaning for our nation as well, with early Founding Fathers and presidents (especially in moments of national import) calling for a time to give thanks to a merciful and gracious God. Lincoln and Washington both called for a national day to give thanks. Compare these sui generis American calls for a national day of Thanksgiving to the edicts despotic regimes from around the globe for personal aggrandizement (think Eastern Bloc countries or cleptocracies from Chavez in Venezuela or Hussein in Iraq). I echo what David McCullough said in an interview, that even a simple reflection on our history reveals divine intervention when looking at the founding of this nation.

Finally, or perhaps penultimately b/c I always have another thought, I now send out Thanksgiving notes to friends and family that have really touched me in some fashion over the year, or perhaps I just want them to know how thankful I am for their friendship. It makes me even more appreciative for this holiday that moves me from my perspective of personal want and busyness to a reflective and even pensive moment of thinking of others and being thankful to God.

But, I still like Christmas best of all. ;) -Jg.