Rewritten and reposted from
NOVEMBER 23, 2016
Always one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving was unique in our culture. It was the last non-shopping major holiday, focused solely on family, friends, food and awkwardness. It was great. It brought together all the characters necessary for a great story. And food. The commercialism is creeping in, but I’m fighting it. At least for now.
I’m working retail for the holidays this year as I search for my next career. All by itself, that experience is a blog in the making – the people on both sides of the counter are stories just waiting to be written. But this Thanksgiving season, the craft and home decorating store I’m working at has been crazy busy with folks determined to be completely Christmassed-up by Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was merely a blip on the retail radar. By two weeks ahead of the holiday, anything turkey-themed or laced with gratitude was on the clearance aisle, replaced with faux Elves On A Shelf, outfits for said elves providing them a better wardrobe than many of the children who cherish them, mock greenery and wooden signs declaring a Merry Christmas to all. And by last night, the shelves were mostly bare.
Something has been lost along the way. As a child, we welcomed our aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins, characters all. As colorful as a New England family could be, mostly Catholic, mostly French Canadian, a combination of working class first-generation and educated and professional second, both my parents college-educated courtesy, in part, of the GI Bill. We ate meat dressing and meat appetizers and meat pies. And as a teen, we went to Thanksgiving football games and drank beer before coming home for the Thanksgiving meal, my parents, I always assumed, none the wiser. This year, we’ll have a few less of the older generation at the table, a few additions, and we’ll have no young children, sort of lull I think until the new generation comes along.
My kids enjoy their focus on family (the Wiley side on this holiday) and look forward to celebrating with aunts, uncles, cousins and other extended family. We all do. Though I’ve retained a little of the French Canadian cuisine at Christmas, our Thanksgiving is purely traditional (with a bit of Italian tossed in courtesy of my sister-in-law’s family). This is a close family, separated by short distances and big opinions, but tied together by love and a genuine appreciation for each other. This is what Thanksgiving is for me. We have weeks to bling out for Christmas, overspend for the Instagram post, and go into debt to make sure our kids are not disappointed. Today is for grace, for thankfulness, for family and for friends.
As I always have, this morning I reflect on my family of my youth, especially my parents, my siblings, my Greenville cousins, my teenage friends (one of whom will be joining us today!) and my Aunts with whom we spent most every holiday growing up. I am forever grateful for the traditions my parents gave us and for the family we surrounded ourselves with. I am grateful today for the traditions we have created for our own children and for the family whom they will cherish long after the turkey is eaten and many of us are gone.
For all my family and friends, near and far, I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings and I wish for me and my family another memory to cherish.