Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thoughts of Thanks and Giving

It was Thanksgiving Eve and the driveway to our house in upstate New York was ablaze with candles, showing our friends and family the way to our house nestled in the woods. When they stepped inside, the fire was roaring and all kinds of food was at the ready...just waiting for them, no matter what time they arrived.

On Thanksgiving morning, we took a long walk in the woods before coming back to prepare food, play football outside, and then hunker down for a night of food, fun, and laughter. Insert sound of screeching brakes! Hold up! That's not at all how our Thanksgiving went but for some reason that is the fantasy I have in my head of how it should go. And for the record, we don't have a house in upstate New York..or a second house anywhere for that matter.

For some reason, Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. I want it to be...I love the romantic notion of it. But I feel like we should be going to some magical location to enjoy the holiday. I like traditions...but we haven't settled on one for Thanksgiving so we do something different each year. Don't get me wrong...each year is always fun and I'm not sure why I can't embrace the adventure of Thanksgiving like I embrace our camping adventures.

I think it is mainly because what Tim and I want to do for Thanksgiving and what the kids want are two different things. We like to be home with just us or a small group. We like to talk walks, read, have a fire, not watch or yell at any sports throughout the day...and certainly not throughout dinner. Now that I'm writing this it sounds like we should be subscribing to AARP magazine and be hitting the hay at 4 pm.

The kids, on the other hand, want to get together with friends and family with as much loudness and chaos as possible. They want to run in and out all day, Jack wants football to be on all day...just as all kids should want the day to go. Because we can't reconcile all of our wishes, we do something different each year..trying to find that one magical thing that works for all of us.

One of my favorite years was just two years ago. We decided to just stay home with the four of us. In the morning we took a long walk in the woods. When we got back, Jack and Tim played football in the yard for a bit while Mimi and I cooked up a storm. We were lounging in our "comfy clothes"/pj's but before dinner we made a rule that it didn't matter what you wore on the bottom, but you had to look good on the top. A Thanksgiving outfit mullet, if you will.

Jack had just discovered cologne and came down wearing fleece pj bottoms, a dress shirt, his hair was styled with gel, and he was wearing about a half a bottle of cologne. Mimi came down in her pj bottoms, nice shirt and sweater, her pearls, and had her hair in a "fancy" hairstyle. Tim and I were dressed similarily with pj bottoms and nice outfits on the top. I had my pearls on, of course. It was hysterical.

I had moved the kitchen table into the living room in front of the fire, we shut off all the lights, and ate by candle and firelight. Afterwards we played games, read, and then slipped into triptophane comas early. It was one of our favorite Thanksgiving memories....although I don't think any of us wanted to try and repeat it because it never would have been as fun as that day.

This year we attempted to go camping with our friends but we didn't want to travel more than 10 hours (given that typically means a 12 hour camper ride + holiday travel). We couldn't find a place that was rated well, was warm enough to wear shorts, an that was open. We had a planning session one night and searched for hours. We were all so disappointed.

In the end we decided to get together with them and Tim's brother + family. We all did our own thing in the morning. For us that meant watching the parade, doing some cooking, then going for a long bike ride. We raced home, took showers, and headed to our friend's house. In the end we ended up having post dinner cocktails in the camper...in the driveway...so for a moment we did feel like we were camping. It was a really fun night...filled with lots of laughs and wine, great food, and great friends. Even the kids had fun running around playing with both their friends and their cousins. It was such a relaxing day, yet filled with the things we all wanted to do.

In the end, Thanksgiving is all about taking a conscious moment to be thankful for all that you have..and I don't mean the quantity of things you have, but rather the quality of life you have created for yourselves. And it's about creating those quality moments with the people you care for that become the memories you carry with you. It really doesn't matter where you do that...at your grandmother's, at your faux house in the woods, or at home. It just matters that you take the time to make memories that matter. Thanks to Christian & Lyn for having two Thanksgivings (they had to do it all over again the next day with Lyn's family!) And thank you Peter and Karen for hosting such a fun night!!

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