In my childhood bedroom, I often strung construction paper Christmas tree garlands and hung homemade Valentine hearts from the ceiling. Even as a youngin, I loved to decorate for these special occasions and create my own "decor." As a little girl I could rattle off my three favorite holidays, in order: Christmas, Valentine's Day, and New Year's Eve (probably not the normal conversation starter but it worked for me).
No doubt Christmas topped them all for the p-r-e-s-e-n-t-s and good music. Valentine's Day was filled with pink and chocolate. And New Year's Eve was so exciting and hopeful and late-night.
But Thanksgiving? Well, Thanksgiving never even made a blip on the radar screen.
Fast forward a few decades later, and here I am mom, wife, and hostess for the annual Thanksgiving dinner.
And guess what? My favorite holiday, hands down: Thanksgiving.
So today I'm giving it up for Thanksgiving with my top 4 for the holiday:
1. Having a four-day weekend that many people honor for leisure. I know this is up for debate with increased shopping schedules, tough economic/working situations, and a lot of football. But speaking just for myself, the hectic work life powers down for four full days, and I sink into the beauty of family and home and pure relaxation. No extra projects creep into the fun of Thanksgiving...and time off really is time off.
2. Having everyone in one spot. The older I get, the more sacred this becomes for me. Don't get me wrong, this is also the element that causes me the most stress; however, I always overthink it. Truthfully, I hit the pillow every Thanksgiving night so grateful to have my parents, my in-laws, my aunt, my children, and my love all in one space - happy, healthy, and very full from a savory meal we were able to provide.
3. Having teamwork. Wednesday evening and most of Thursday is spent in food preparation (and a whole bunch of parade watching). My husband and I plan the meal together and dance around one another in the kitchen all day, prepping each dish and attending to the big bird. It's a total team effort that fills our house with the smells that are family, holidays, and gratitude. And we have hours and hours just to marinate in the experience together.
4. Having time to be grateful. At Christmas, I can get distracted away from Christ's birth with toy overload and travel prep. At Thanksgiving, I take the time to pull away just a bit from the must-do list and gaze at all I've been given. I watch the scene of my children laughing and playing make believe with their grandparents. I peek in on my daughter sharing her latest secrets with her grandma. I take a deep breath by the fully extended dining table, covered with recipes we've tweaked and enjoyed as a family for years and years. I feel the sentiment in this year's toast to good health and family, and whisper a petition for yet another next year. It's a day of very active prayer, very present moments where I feel and express the gratitude that I am graced to experience the other 364 days.
And I'm so very thankful for Thanksgiving.