Thanksgiving is not as flashy as Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day or Fourth of July. It stands alone as the least commercialized holiday in the United States. There is no specific ceremony or opportunity to give gifts. Of course it is still leaden with tradition, heavy with the expectation to gather with family.
Some hate Thanksgiving. Hate the traveling woes or straight up hate their family. We all have dysfunctional families. We all have that one cousin or uncle that prefer to use the opportunity to air out grievances or use as a battlefield to incite new blood feuds. Making the turkey course a little precarious right up through the dessert course, consuming pumpkin pie absolutely mortified. This is the real reason there is a Kid’s Table. Too much wine and too much turkey lead to the reveal of the family’s most salacious secrets. That stuff is NOT for kids.
I used to dread what my family would say about my eventual weight gain, as it was customary for me to put on a few pounds after October. I would hate having to squeeze into my nicest work clothes, as Thanksgiving was not special enough to merit a new outfit, unlike Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
I would hate the traffic to and from Austin to Dallas-Fort Worth for the Thanksgiving weekend. Traffic once piled up so bad it took me 8 hours to complete a 3.5 hour drive. We hate other people rushing around, with little regard to anyone else’s safety, to be with their own families. Of whom we could care less.
But one Thanksgiving was different for me. My father passed away days before.
My family, however distant, put their holiday on hold to fly out immediately. To be there for his ceremony. And then to spend their Thanksgiving in a strange town in a hamburger joint. After the ceremony, my siblings and I drove back to my mom’s house. To have our regular Thanksgiving in the comfort and familiarity with our surviving parent. My parents had divorced years prior. That may have been why I never thought to extend an invite to my dad’s family that flew in.
Thanksgiving was not much different after that, but I was. Any time family or friends got together to share a meal, I would hold it in my memory. I would remind myself, these were the moments worth living for. These were the moments to savor. Breakfast with friends after a night out drinking, clam chowder and crackers on the boat with the family that flew out, bowls of menudo with my mom’s family, and of course Thanksgiving.
It’s such a simple concept, one that cannot and should not be over commercialized. Breaking bread with the ones you have in your life, right now. I know my mom will again make four pies this year, our favorite flavors for each of her three children and herself; apple for Sarah, cherry for T, peach for me, and pumpkin for Mom. I know there will be new faces and old faces at her dining room table. I know I will savor it all.