Continuing Thanksgiving reflections…
I was trying to explain to someone yesterday why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year and why I enjoy it so much more than Christmas…
I love going to grocery stores on the day before Thanksgiving and spending a few minutes in the produce section. Among the crowds, you can witness moments unlike any other time of the year. Women, men, couples, and parents with children not shopping, but picking the very particular gifts for the table. These selections are tied to a million strings of memory, heritage, and tradition. If you watch carefully and listen, you can feel something that I can only describe as (using a word I seldom do) sacred.
Thanksgiving as much as any other holiday honors the integrity of the day. Though I'll shop ahead and maybe start a few things on the night before (and of course I have to put up my turkey lights a week before), the bulk of preparation work and enjoyment takes place on the day itself. I get up early each year and fry two pounds of bacon…already a perfect day in itself…which will end up in a variety of dishes before the day is over. From there I move from dish to dish, from hour to hour through the day until people arrive. Then it is a new progression of simultaneously serving and cooking until dinner is on the table. I often lament that the meal which I spent 12 hours cooking is consumed in 20 minutes, but even here there is a beauty. Unlike the chores of Christmas, Thanksgiving creations are completely ephemeral. No one has to return an unwanted gift (no scatological comments, please). It is a holiday that is complete in a single day with relatively little buildup (the media are too busy talking about Christmas) and only dishes to wash at the end.
Finally, at the end of the day I never feel let down or (as with Christmas) abject depression. Despite the Catholic understanding of the expectation of Advent leading to the celebration of Christmas, I have never been able to get beyond the Zeitgeist of Christmas marking the end of something. After all the work and expectation and disappointment, Christmas dinner is one of the most exhausting and depressing meals of the year, filling ourselves in order to take on the next task of putting Christmas away as quickly as possible. A friend commented that she can't wait to take down the tree as soon as the day is over, which I found horrifying. But while we go quite the other way and hold on to things as long as possible, the reality is that this is merely a decision of pulling the band-aid off quickly or slowly. The single day focus of Thanksgiving leading into the holiday season marks a perfect moment of the year where present and future are completely aligned.
On top of all of this, tomorrow I will finally complete the 30 Blogposts of Summer! What could be better?
As always, I welcome your comments.
Image: 'Leaf turkey' http://www.flickr.com/photos/35468149768@N01/304316401 Found on flickrcc.net