Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

If you know me, you know I'm not exactly a hardliner when it comes to resisting the appeal of the Christmas holiday season. But one thing I will stand up for, every year, is the ability to celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday in its own right.

Growing up, Thanksgiving was one of many holidays we didn't celebrate. My mother believed, as most in her faith do, that Thanksgiving is a corruption of an ancient pagan celebration and no good Christian should celebrate it. Not only that, Witnesses specifically avoid singling out any one day to do someting they should do every day (be thankful). Then there's the whole patriotic history, eating to excess, etc. Anyway, you'll find a good write-up on beliefnet.

Even given all of that, Thanksgiving was the one time where my whole messed up family got together. My aunts and uncles who had left the state would come back, cousins I never saw would appear at my grandparents' house, and so on. We never had a car, so visiting with certain family members was very rare. If we skipped holidays, we might never see them. So at several points in her life, my mother came to some kind of a compromise with her conscience and her family.

We attended a few Thanksgivings. It wasn't a regular thing, as my mother's strictness on certain issues varied year to year. But we went to a few. Enough for certain aspects of the holiday to imprint on me, and eough for me to feel sentimental about it in a way that I don't with other holidays.

As hosts of this year's Thanksgiving dinner, we have a chance to take the traditions I remember from my childhood and mix them with my wife's family traditions. It's a rare thing, for me. I have very little in the way of tradition when it comes to the holidays, so mostly I've just inherited hers. It's a special opportunity and I look forward to it.

So, for just a couple more days, try to ignore the Christmas music on the radio. Don't put out your lights quite yet. Take a moment to be thankful for your family, your traditions, your memories, and all that you've accomplished (through hard work or dumb luck) in the past year. And get psyched up for good comfort food -- the smell of a roasting bird, potatoes whipped so smooth they might as well be fake, hot gravy and warm pies. And get ready to remind a new generation of kids that Christmas is great, but Thanksgiving deserves a place in your heart too.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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