Tag Archives: holidays

Three Weeks Until Christmas?

Am I the only person who was shocked to realize this week that Christmas is only three weeks away? How does this happen?

What is so interesting is that Christmas falls on the same day every year. It’s not one of those willy-nilly holidays that changes depending on some outside factor. Every year, Christmas is December 25. How is it that on December 1st every year, I lose it just a little bit? With little more than three weeks to go, I begin to jot down all the presents I still need to buy, the supplies I need to wrap said presents, and the food items I will need to purchase for our Christmas dinner.

Then, of course, there are the activities my children and I want to take part in. There is the Festival of Lights to see, the ABC Family 25 days of Christmas, the lighting of the Rockefeller center Christmas tree, and a hole host of parties to make appearances at.

It seems as though each year, I try to cram in more and more activities into this month. It’s gotten so stressful that I’ve resorted to eliminating anything from my plate that I can. Last year, I simply posted a “Merry Christmas” message on Facebook in lieu of sending out Christmas cards. (Yes, I really did that.) Of course, immediately after posting my “Christmas card” to Facebook, I received one of those Christmas letters in the mail. You know…THOSE letters. The ones detailing each member of the family’s accomplishments throughout the year. The letter that I never seem to have time to complete. Not that I could remember the entire year anyways.

Seriously, I just can’t keep up with all of it. So this year, I’m vowing to be stress free. I will not fall victim to the Christmas card and all that’s involved with dressing up my children so they look like little angels. I will not battle the crowds at the mall; this year, I vow to make most of my purchases on-line. I vow to not go into debt to give my children every single item on their list only to have it wind up in the goodwill pile in three months. I vow that this year will be the best year, filled with laughter and the things that really matter.

Quality time together.

Donna Small is the author of two novels; Just Between Friends and A Ripple in the Water. She lives in Clemmons where she is at work on her next novel.

http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=62&osCsid=1a86c254d67fadbd2a62111aaf323367

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Happy Thanksgiving

I have been fortunate to spend Thanksgiving a variety of ways.  I’ve done the get up and run around the house cleaning and helping Mama in the kitchen all while watching the Macy’s parade kind.  I’ve cooked a turkey in a smoker and had my family over for a late dinner as a newlywed.  I’ve eaten little and exercised a lot.  I’ve even spent the entire day crying in my pj’s having just lost a baby.  It was the hardest thing I could imagine but as my mother held my head and comforted me, she also reminded me to be thankful that I was healthy and one day the grief would not be tied to Thanksgiving.  I’ve never forgotten that I lost the baby but I am thankful that I no longer automatically dread Thanksgiving because of those memories.

This year  I am sure will be difficult again, just as the first one without my grandmother, or the first without my father, and the one we lost the baby.  My mother-in-law will be on all of our minds, and we will surely miss her, but we are going to be thankful for all the Thanksgivings we spent together!

This is a recipe that gets raves every time I take it to holiday gatherings.  I hope you like it, and that you have a fabulous Thanksgiving, and holiday season.

Cranberry Swirl Corn Bread Pudding

1/2 (15 ounce) can cranberry sauce

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup scuppernong blush wine

1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (Jiffy)

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, steep the dried cranberries in the wine until they plump, approximately 30 minutes then strain out the cranberries and add them to the half can of cranberry sauce.  Discard or find another use for the wine.  Mix well.  In a large bowl, stir together the corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish.  Pour the cranberry mix over the top in a zigzag pattern.  Using a kitchen knife, zigzag the cranberry mixture in the opposite direction.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

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Happy Any-Holiday, Wherever You Are, by Carole Howard

Count me among the many Americans who think Thanksgiving is the best holiday.  My reasons are all the usual suspects: food, family, tradition, gratitude, and no presents.  (Frankly, I could live without the televised football game seduction after the meal, but I reluctantly acknowledge it’s part of the tradition.)

Being globe-trotters, though (see Trekking, Traipsing, and Writing), we’ve frequently been overseas during holidays.  There’s something bitter-sweet about celebrating from afar. On the one hand, I long for the nurturing feeling of home. On the other hand, my memories of those distant celebrations are among my most vivid and sweet.

Like the time, in 1974, when we made Thanksgiving dinner for as many of Senegal’s Peace Corps Volunteers as could make their way to our place in Dakar, the capital.  Now there’s a group of people who are hungry, and not just for food.  Mostly young, mostly out in the bush, sometimes homesick, the draw of a traditional American meal with other Americans was all but irresistible to them.

thanksgiving in senegalMany of the Peace Corps staff, both Africans and Americans, came, too; we loved introducing the Senegalese to our annual feast and explaining its significance.

We crammed a hundred potatoes, sweet and white, into our oven.  The bakery down the street agreed to roast our four turkeys (nice big fat ones, ordered from the Embassy Commissary) in their giant ovens.  Cranberry sauce also came from the Commissary.  The biggest challenge was treating enough lettuce (in permanganate, to kill any lurking amoebas) to make salad for 60-70 people.  Brownies, brownies, brownies — you can hardly imagine how many brownies we went through!

We might not have had all the trimmings, and the weather might have been tropical, but it was definitely Thanksgiving in all its food, fellowship, and gratitude respects.  Little did I know, almost forty years later I’d get to use the scene in Chapter Four of Deadly Adagio.

We were once living in Lomé, the capital of Togo (a bite-sized West African country about the size of West Virginia, just east of Ghana), on New Year’s Eve.  We partied on the beach and, just before midnight, took our champagne into the water, laughing and singing.  We knew the exact moment the new year arrived because, to our surprise and joy, all the ships in the nearby harbor blasted their powerful horns.  It’s not every year you get to welcome the new year while drinking champagne in the Bight of Benin, fireworks in the distance, with ten ships’ cacophony keeping the beat.

In 1998, when our daughter was teaching atIMG_2479 the American School in Casablanca, we decided to meet in Senegal and travel together.  As it worked out, we were in Niokolo-Kobo, the game park, on the first night of Hanukkah.  Of course, I knew ahead of time we’d be somewhere in Senegal at that time, so came prepared with little candles.  No menorah, but melted wax on a notebook did the trick.  It’s a very sweet memory – for me, anyway. No one else in the family remembers it, but I have proof.

And then there was President Obama’s first inauguration.  While not a recurring holiday in the sense of Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve, it was a very important day for me, and it occurred while we were in Ghana. At first, I was dejected not to be home for the inauguration, even more so when I learned there was no public ceremony or broadcast at the Embassy. But we found we could go to the W.E.B. Du Bois Center where the CNN coverage would be shown on a giant screen. I look back upon that singular moment as a very special one, surrounded by hundreds of other Americans and Ghanaians on a historic and joyful day.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 5.41.29 PMScreen Shot 2013-10-28 at 5.46.36 PMWe’re equal-opportunity celebrants, though, observing the holidays of the region we’re in, too.  Like the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice (Eid-al-Adha), commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, when families buy a goat and spend a month fattening it up so they can…… well, you know.

Hanging on to traditional holiday celebrations, whether national, ethnic, or universal, re-links us to our culture, to our families and friends in absentia, and to our country.  We feel whole.

What do you do when you’re away from your home and family during a holiday?

***

Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio, recently published by Second Wind Publishing.

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Happy Chocolate Day!

ImageToday is one of my favorite holidays.  

What?  October 28 doesn’t ring any bells for you?  You didn’t see the greeting cards?

Well, let me tell you that today is National Chocolate Day!

I admit I’m a choco-holic.  My family will tell you that I’ve always had a sweet tooth and that my sweet of choice has always been the melt-in-your-mouth variety.  When someone says “kisses,” my first thoughts are of the foil wrapped variety not the smooching type.  My husband has grown accustomed to seeing bags of chocolate chips in the vegetable crisper and has long since given up asking if I knew they were there.  My favorite sweatshirt has always been the one that proclaims “Give me chocolate and no one gets hurt.”  (Sadly, it wore out about 10 years ago.  But it’s still my favorite.)

In the summer, chocolate shakes are a must.  Hot chocolate is a winter-time staple.

While chocolate may not directly influence my writing, it does serve as an amazing reward for getting words on the page.

And this time of year, I have a bag of chocolate waiting for any Trick-or-Treaters who may find their way to our door.  Living in the country, however, means that there will probably be no children ringing our bell and the chocolate will be savored by me over the next few weeks—or days.

So allow me to be the first to wish you all a Happy Chocolate Day.  Whether you prefer white, milk, semi-sweet or dark, enjoy a piece in celebration.  (Check out Second Helpings: A collection of holiday short stories and recipes, too.  You might find a new chocolate dish to share!)

Blessings!
Nichole

Nichole Bennett has been an avid mystery reader from a young age.  Her first novel, Ghost Mountain, is available from Second Wind Publishing. When she’s not writing, Nichole can be found  knitting socks, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, or spending too much time online.  And reading.

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Over the river and through the woods to…hey, didn’t we just cross that same bridge an hour ago?

I know the real reason men get married and I am outing you guys.  It has nothing to do with how well she cooks, or how she makes you feel like the king of the world or any of that other stuff we women love to hear.

It’s so you can get directions when you get lost and still save face. 

Ladies, how many times has your husband, after the fourth time you suggest that according to the map you might be lost, has he said, “Fine, you go in and ask them how to get to route 50 if you don’t trust me to get us there!”

For Thanksgiving this year we decided to drive to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to spend time with my husband’s family for a change.  It’s been about four years since we last made the trip and we were definitely overdue.  One would think that my husband would be well acquainted with the various routes, having lived in Rehoboth for a number of years and having spent holidays with his brother or his sister before we got married.

Alas, it turns out he knows one route by heart and the others are sort of a hit or miss.  Every time we’ve gone in the past, we go up the Eastern Shore and come home via 301.  This year due to traffic reports of backups in the Hampton Rhoads tunnel and on 64 towards the Bay Bridge Tunnel – we decided to go up 301.  Or so I thought.  On a lark, Wednesday night at 5 pm, he decides to take I-95 North to catch 301 above Richmond.  He gets in the far left lane, lays the hammer down and off we go.  At the Atlee-Elmont exit I suggest that he get over to the right hand lane since traffic was hideous and the exit would be coming up shortly.  “I know what I am doing,” he says with only a hint of “would you like to drive?” in his voice.  He’s still in the left lane when I see the signs indicating the exit is coming up.  “So, Hon, you might want to start working your way over.  The exit is in 2 miles.”  Silence.  “Honey?”..Silence.  “The exit is coming up.”  “I know that I just want to get ahead of that car.”  “But there’s a break behind him if you’ll just slow down a bit…and we are getting off the interstate in about a mile anyway, so who cares?”  Silence; except for the sound of acceleration as he attempts to pass the car that has no intention of letting a mini-van with a Mickey Mouse antenna topper pass.  Needless to say, 2 miles later he was able to get into the center lane, behind the aforementioned car with the exit a mile behind us.

I’ve been married to this man for ten years; I know when to keep my own counsel as he starts muttering about where we might be able to pick up 301 again.  I’m also familiar with the spots where one can easily “pick up 301 again” in Virginia and knew we weren’t going to see 301 again until we were on the other side of DC.

In the end, we got to his sister’s house with only a few minor detours through the countryside of Delaware and one stop to ask for directions.  We made remarkably good time, all things considered, and from my husband’s point of view, he is right up there with Lewis and Clark in terms of charting his way.  (I refrained from reminding him, that without Sacagawea, they probably would have wound up in Central America.)

 

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead reviews books for Crystal Reviews (www.crystalreviews.com) and writes paranormal romance. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

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Crushed at Christmas by Norm Brown

Since Christmas day is less than a week away, I figured it would be appropriate for this blog to be somehow related to the holiday. So sitting here this morning at my keyboard, I let my mind wander back through the years to come up with a story of my most memorable Christmas. With all the colorful lights, decorations, gifts, and magical atmosphere, Christmas is a wonderful time for kids. So, I knew the year that came to mind would be from my early times. But, in all honesty, I was surprised by the particular memory that first popped into my old head. In this little mental exercise, you sort of expect to come up with a story of a little boy getting exactly what he wanted or maybe finding something wonderfully unexpected under the tree. There were certainly times like that, but no single year stands out to me now. Instead, the Christmas I remember most vividly is memorable for very different and personal reasons. At the risk of further embarrassment to the shy little boy I once was, I’ll share it with you.

If I’m doing the math correctly now, the year was 1958. I was ten years old and halfway through fourth grade at Groves Elementary. On the last Friday before school let out for the holidays my teacher, whom I had a tremendous school boy crush on, stood before the class and announced that we would have a new teacher when we returned to school. Mrs. Kite was leaving to have a baby. We were all stunned by this turn of events. With obvious concern in his voice, my classmate Rusty Brown (no relation) asked if she would have to be cut open to let the baby out. She smiled and said no. We all laughed, but nobody asked the obvious follow-up question. In many ways, ten year olds were a lot younger back then. As for myself, it had never occurred to me that the pretty blonde first-year teacher was married. We all called her Miss Kite. As she introduced her replacement, Mrs. Cheek, I’m sure I wasn’t the only boy in the room who was at least temporarily heart-broken. When I got home that day, I came across a graded math worksheet she had returned to me a few days earlier. I wasn’t proud of the C+ grade she had given me, but it had a note on it in her handwriting. It said, “I know you can do better than this, Norman.” Not exactly a love note, but it was written just to me. As I later cleaned out all the other odds and ends from my satchel, I saved the paper and stuffed it way back in my bedroom closet underneath a pile of old stuff.

Like any ten year old, my attention soon moved on to happier things. After all, we were out of school for two whole weeks and it was only a few days until Christmas. And then the inevitable happened. Looking back on the scene now, I wonder how I could have not known that bedroom closets are the personal domain of mothers. Anything rearranged or hidden would be noticed. Unfortunately for me, she came across the note on the very evening that my dad set up the Christmas tree in the living room. We were all looking forward to decorating it. That year, and that year only, I would not be participating in that. Mother came up to me with the math paper in hand. I know. A C+ grade doesn’t seem all that bad. It was merely a daily exercise and I had carelessly rushed through it. But the handwritten note in red ink from the teacher, along with the fact that I had obviously hidden it in the closet, was pretty damning. Not aware of any other possible reason I might stash the paper away, my mom had no doubt that Mrs. Kite had sent my poor effort home to be signed by a parent. Hiding it was what got me in hot water. She handed me the paper and told me to go sit myself down at the kitchen table and rework each math problem that had a red “X” beside it.

At that moment, I think I learned the meaning of the phrase, “between a rock and a hard place.” What could I say in my defense? I feebly argued that the teacher had not sent it home to be signed, but there was no way I could stand there in front of my entire family and explain the real reason I had hidden the paper. It was a personal note from a teacher I—what? Liked a lot?  I realize now my parents probably would have understood if I could have explained. But hey, we’re talking about a ten year old boy here. No way I was going to talk about that kind of mushy stuff. With my head down I quietly marched into the kitchen and did as I was told.

Fortunately, it took only a few minutes to do the math exercises. I was able to rejoin the family before the tree decorating was completely done. My parents seemed satisfied that they had taught me a valuable lesson: follow directions and do not hide things from them. But the lesson I had actually learned was quite different: no more older women for me.

Merry Christmas!

Norm Brown is the author of the suspense novel Carpet Ride, published by Secondwind Publishing, LLC.

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A Christmas Without . . . Again by Jan D Linton (J J Dare)

It’s that time of year again. The radio stations will not let me forget that bells will be ringing and this is not the time of year to be without the ones you love. Of all the depressing seasons, Christmas ranks at the top for a number of people. The entity of this holiday mocks those who are “barely getting through tomorrow” (Hard Candy Christmas © 1978 by Carol Hall). Most of the songs are downright depressing when you listen to the lyrics.

Last holiday season I wrote about a Christmas Without two members of my family who had passed on: my brother and my partner. My brother died in March, 2010, and my partner died unexpectedly the following July.

It was a hard holiday season to find joy. Last year, I found little bits of holiday cheer, here and there, but mostly, I found peace. Tranquility saw me through the time of year when togetherness with loved ones is seen as the ultimate holiday happiness.

This year, as December 25th relentlessly marches toward me, I add another who will no longer celebrate Christmas in my same realm: my mother. In August of this year, she joined other members of my family in the great beyond.

You can be swallowed up in sadness during the holiday season. If there was ever a time I wished for seclusion away from the world, this would be the time. Over Thanksgiving I told one of my daughters that I did not want to do this again. She thought I meant the cooking; what I meant was the holiday. I did not want to sadly celebrate another holiday with the heaviness of empty places at the table.

In the spirit of directing my mind away from hard reality, I’m going overboard with holiday decorations this month. Overboard for me means putting out more than just a few Christmas candles and trinkets. There is a 3-foot tree in my house. It’s fake, but at least it’s a tree instead of a picture of one on the mantle.

This year, I did something I rarely do: I sent out Christmas cards. Typically, I forget to send them until after Christmas and by that time, I’d feel funny sending them with a “Happy Belated Christmas” note attached. I have several addressed and stamped cards from various years; one is even from the early 90’s to someone I don’t remember knowing.

On Christmas Day, we plan to celebrate just like in “A Christmas Story.” Instead of Chinese, we’re doing sushi. We’ll have some traditional fare, too, for those of us who are expecting some of the Christmas trimmings.

Despite my overwhelming desire to halt the season of good cheer, the lights on the tree blink, the candles flicker and carolers on television continue to sing. This year in my year with my withouts, I don’t feel like celebrating a season of joy.

Yet, the season won’t leave me alone. I’m a reluctant wallflower at this dance of December and Christmas has walked over to where I’m silently sitting and is gently coaxing me onto the dance floor.

As I succumb to the wonderful smells of freshly baked cookies and snappy peppermint, I can picture those who are no longer here surrounding me with approval. “Celebrate,” they seem to say. “Celebrate the season with the ones you love. Celebrate our memories.”

I miss Chuck, Dan and Mom deeply. The holiday season reinforces their absence. If I could turn back the clock, I would take it back to when they were still with me and then, break the hands of time.

My holidays will forever have ribbons of sadness wrapped around gifts of joy. “Live in the moment, count your blessings, be thankful for those who love you.” Yes, I do these things and more, but it does not diminish a yearning for times past.

If, like me, you are celebrating a Christmas Without, I wish tranquility and peace for you. I will be honoring the past, acknowledging the present and hoping for the future this holiday season.

Sometimes the journey toward a goal is more rewarding than the goal itself. With that thought, I’ll continue to walk the Christmas Road to joy. Mayhap I will find it at along the way, mayhap I will find contentment from simply walking toward it.

May your own Christmas journey be filled with the gifts most precious to your heart. May comfort accompany you along the Christmas Road. May your Christmas Withouts be wrapped in tranquility and may the stillness of peace reign now and throughout your coming year.

J J Dare (pen name ) is the author of two published books, several short stories and thirty-plus works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

Facebook addiction

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Spread the magic…

Do you know what I like the most about this time of year?  It’s not the food, though that’s usually really good.  And it isn’t the gifts, though I got some great ones this year.  What I like most about this time of year is that we all—adults and children, alike—are more than willing to believe in a little magic.

We, as a culture, encourage the idea of Santa Claus.  Really?  A big guy who can swoosh down your chimney with a bag full of presents?  Who has flying reindeer?  And survives on a diet of milk and cookies?  Come on!  There’s a little magic in that.

But I think there’s more than that.  I think the magic of Christmas is more than the commercial idea of Santa.  To me, there is magic in the bells.  Yes, the church bells, but also the Salvation Army bell ringers.  I know those ringers are freezing their fingers off to remind shoppers that there are less fortunate ones out there.  And most people give.  Maybe only a few cents—the change in their pocket—but something. Then there are the people who don’t have much, but give to the Angel Trees, or knit scarves for the homeless, or donate a few extra cans to the food bank.

To me, that is the magic of Christmas.  When people help each other without looking for any kind of reward or even a “thank you.”  Those opportunities for random acts of kindness are just more prevalent during the holidays then any other time of year.

But magic should be spread.  So I plan to look for one of those opportunities each and every month in 2011.  I want to make this year a year of kindness.  Because, really, don’t we all need a little more kindness, a little more magic, in our lives?

Blessings!

Nichole

 

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Christmas Without

The calendar hanging on my wall will not stop its relentless march toward December 25th. Steadily, the days move toward the holiday like an ant toward a grain of sugar.

Even before tragedy struck my immediate family twice this year, I have occasionally looked at Christmas as a time of year when the emphasis on what I do not have dominates the holiday. Some years I did not have enough money to indulge in gift-giving the way I wanted. Other years I was without time to enjoy the season.

This year I am without two members of my family. Christmas Day will be heavy with their permanent absence.

As a writer, I indulge in the emotional side of situations. Because I cannot touch a reader’s heart with a visual display of sorrow, joy or any other emotion, I have to depict them on paper in such a way the reader will emphatically connect to the story and character.

Christmas Without is relatable in the same emphatic way. Each of us has had one or more holidays without something important to us, whether it’s family, money, or even the spirit of the season. We can all relate to a Christmas we simply wish to get past.

Strangely, I’m beginning to feel the tingling of a little Christmas spirit. This year, in the midst of the biggest “without” of my life, I’m starting to experience the wonder of the season. The decorations lining Main Street are brighter and the carols sound more beautiful. The smell of evergreen is stronger and the taste of eggnog is more delicious.

I feel the losses of my loved ones deeply and without pause. Although my thoughts are full of longing for the impossible return of what was once my reality, I feel a sense of calm serenity.

I will try to carry this calm serenity into my writing. For a time recently, I included a major character’s untimely death in all of my stories. During those periods of dark prose, it seemed the only way to write. It was the only thing that made sense since I was (and still am) living the reality of my fiction.

At the start of December, I began to feel different. Whether it’s the seasonal holiday goodwill or the calm remembrances of better times, whatever has happened is good for me and good for my writing. I have started to fill my characters with a little more joy and hope, and a little less sorrow and despair. Where death was once running like an unseen cloud throughout my stories, the hope of life is slowly taking its place.

The holiday season is bustling with good intentions and warm feelings. I am saving my “withouts” for New Year’s Eve when I will reflect on loved ones I miss with all of my heart. I will reflect and then I will begin to look forward.

I wish you all a Christmas Without “withouts.” I wish you a season of peace and comfort. If you cannot muster cheer for the holidays, embrace its tranquility instead.

I will.

J J Dare, author of Joe Daniel’s “False Positive” and “False World,” and numerous short stories

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Thanksgiving: A holiday or the trigger for the countdown to Christmas?

Last week, as I turned into my neighborhood, my 4-year-old pointed out that it was time for Daddy to start putting up Christmas decorations.  (Or as I think of it, doing a “Griswold” on our house.)  In the midst of my explanation that it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet, and Christmas decorations don’t go up until after Thanksgiving, he yelled from the backseat, “But Mommy, they’re doing it!”  I looked over and sure enough, a week before Thanksgiving and one of my neighbors is setting up inflatables, hanging lights, and otherwise setting the bar for what my husband will try to top this year.  (But that is another, more comedic, blog.)

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’ve been seeing Christmas decorations popping up since Halloween decorations began coming down, and one case the two were up that the same time.  You can’t turn on the TV without seeing an ad for Black Friday sales.  This morning, I went on-line to buy tickets to take the kids to see Virginia’s Legendary Santa and discovered that dates are already selling out!  We’ve been seeing Santa’s “twin brothers” or cousins for previous years, but this year the boys are at the right ages (4 & 7) that it will be special, so I sprang for the tickets to avoid a potential 2 hour wait.  I just couldn’t believe that the reserved dates were already selling out.

It really bothers me that Thanksgiving seems to be fading out in our haste to dive into the commercialism of Christmas.  Or is it that we don’t recognize how much we have to be thankful for so we brush this holiday aside as nothing more than a kick-off to Christmas?

Even my mother, the queen of holiday family entertaining, almost cancelled our family Thanksgiving dinner this year because she has so much going on to get ready for the Christmas season.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I like Thanksgiving.  I have to say that it is one of my favorite holidays.  I even like decorating for Thanksgiving.  There’s something comforting about the colors of fall.  Candles in warm burgundy, gold, and various hues of green with woodsy scents; potted mums on doorsteps with pumpkins or gourds around them; and wreathes featuring leaves, cornucopia of fall produce, and the earthy shades of the season; a transition of sorts between the harsher motifs and colors of Halloween and the bright lights and vibrant reds of Christmas. 

To me, it is a family focused holiday.  It is about reconnecting.  When we were children, we were all involved with meal preparation, the decorations, and of course the clean up afterwards.  As young adults, we often were guests to the meal, but reconnected during the clean-up.  Triumphs and personal tragedies were shared while cleaning up the dishes and dividing up the leftovers among us.  It was often this holiday when engagements, due dates, and promotions were announced, while Mom and Dad enjoyed a few peaceful moments over coffee or an after dinner drink watching the adults that their children had become.  As we began to have families of our own, we would arrive bearing some part of the meal so that Mom didn’t have to do all the cooking for 15 or more.  The single or childless ones would still arrive early to help with set up and as those states changed, it was the older grandchildren who would be dropped off early to help.  We siblings and spouses still connect over doing the dishes and dividing up the leftovers, while Mom and Dad enjoy and after dinner coffee or drink, but there aren’t a lot of peaceful moments until we all leave since there are 9 grandchildren ranging from 4 to 22 interacting, or not, with each other.  Until last year, there were four generations of women in our family at these meals, but we lost the 103 year old matriarch of the family last fall and the next generation has not yet begun, but with the oldest of the current brood at 22, I suspect that will be changing before long.

This is also a holiday for reflection of a different manner than the religious or spiritual reflections of Christmas or the resolutions to be made for the New Year.  While the traditional story of Plymouth Rock is associated with the holiday of Thanksgiving, it was but one of many thanksgivings in America’s history and as such becomes a holiday for all Americans to think about what we, or our ancestors, overcame to live in this country.  It doesn’t matter whether your ancestors were here to begin with and overcame the arrival of others, or your ancestors braved hostile oceans, or border crossings to get here: it is a holiday to recognize how much we have to be thankful for.  As someone whose ancestry includes a mix of people who were here to begin with, those who came to exploit the bounties of this new world, those who fled here to escape intolerable conditions in their homeland, and those who had no choice about coming here; to me, this holiday embodies the dream and the promise of America.

Socio-, economic, and political issues aside, there is still much for us to be thankful for.  I hope that we all stop in our rush to start the countdown to Christmas and enjoy this holiday for what it is.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours.

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead reviews books for Crystal Reviews (www.crystalreviews.com) and writes paranormal romance. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

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