I feel like congratulations are in order because we have officially reached the best part of the year. I think it’s clear from my previous columns that Halloween, while fun and all, is not really my bag. But the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas? Yes, please.
The food, the anticipation, the bags of really high-quality chocolate chips lining the aisles of the grocery store that you feel justified in buying because you say you’ll use them to bake something decadent for all your neighbors, but you really just end up eating them all by yourself at midnight while waiting to change out a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer – these are the days for which I live.
Our Thanksgiving is going to be different this year because our oldest nephew and his fiancé decided to get married the day after Thanksgiving in a state far, far away. I feel like their timing is payback for my and Logan’s decision nearly 20 years ago to have our wedding 10 days before Christmas, forcing our families to travel to town for the wedding, go back home for a few days and then return for Christmas.
Sorry, everyone! But we love our nephew and his fiancé and wouldn’t miss it for the world, so we’re packing up the kids and driving to the wedding next week, arriving at our Airbnb on Thanksgiving afternoon. And I’m not certain, but I’m guessing that the hosts won’t have a full turkey dinner set out on the table for us when we arrive.
Missing Thanksgiving dinner is not an option for our family. We love food (and especially pie!) waaaaay too much to just brush this little scheduling mishap under the rug. So we’re going the unconventional route and doing what is known as Fakesgiving where you do the whole Thanksgiving song and dance (turkey, fancy table settings, heartburn, etc.) but just on a different day.
And today is the day. As you sit at your kitchen table leisurely reading this very newspaper, Logan and I are wrestling a 20-pound turkey out of its briny bath and into the smoker that will be its home for the next 4-6 hours.
I am rolling out pie crusts and licking chocolate pudding off spatulas while barking orders to my kids to straighten up the cushions on the couch and, for heaven’s sake, stop letting the kitten into the living room. Later, I will attempt to set a table for 15 the way Martha Stewart would do it even though I have failed at this task consistently since 2004.
Thanksgiving is an exhausting delight. The food takes literally all day to prepare and then is consumed in less than 30 minutes. The cleanup is, as you know, astronomical. But I love it. It’s a day dedicated to nothing but gratitude, food and family.
There is no huge buildup to the holiday; no massive amounts of decorations to put up; no expectation to give or receive gifts; no Elf on the Shelf shenanigans to maintain. It’s one meal lovingly prepared and gratefully eaten. It’s an excuse to be together with those you love most and pause for a minute or two to count your blessings.
It’s a much-needed buffer before the consumerized blitz of Christmas, which is why I am militant about not putting up any Christmas décor or listening to holiday music before Thanksgiving. This day of gratitude will not be edged out of its place no matter how much I’m dying to hear “White Christmas” (which is kind of a lot).
This year, whether it’s at our Fakesgiving today or our pitiful Airbnb non-Thanksgiving next week, I hope my family remembers this quote from Thomas Monson, a religious leader and author:
“We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.”
Hopefully we can all try to celebrate Thanksgiving, in spirit anyway, every day of the year.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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