Monday, December 1, 2008

The Thanksgiving Ritual: A Purpose Well Served

For people who have a hard time getting to sleep at night, it's often recommended that they develop a bedtime ritual which will help signal to the mind and body that sleep will soon be forthcoming. Morning routines also exist; mine consists of about 5 snoozes, 3 cups of coffee and cursing bad drivers on the way to work. From spending the night at Irene's, I know for a fact that hers involves popping out of bed with an extra spring in her step and thinking about rainbows, puppies, sunshine and joy as she brushes her teeth, which is followed by a short bout of dancing and singing. While this may seem like an unnatural amount of early morning cheerfulness, it's the norm for Irene and something that works for her.

Routines and rituals add a rhythm to our lives and can be a source of familiar comfort in the busy, dynamic times we live in. This is becoming increasingly obvious to me with each Thanksgiving that passes. Each year, we eat until the buttons pop off our pants and mill about the house, often running out of things to say to each other after our first round of eating. This year my realization that I don't even like the main event of the day called into question my thankfulness for a holiday where everyone is encouraged to eat a huge meal revolving around Mr. Turkey himself.

Surely there are people who celebrate Thanksgiving for all the right reasons, who say grace, share what they are thankful for and truly enjoy eating turkey breast meat with all the trimmings. But I'm pretty sure that for every 1 person who loves Thanksgiving, there are 2 more who could do without it. (This number may even be on the conservative side). So then, if there are a whole lot of us who don't even like it all that much, the question arises: why do we continue to do it every year? Is it that we do not want to appear unthankful? Have we nothing better to do on a 4-day break from work? Are we afraid to deviate from the norm which we grew up with? The reasons are many and the list could go on and on. The important part is to ask yourself, why do you celebrate Thanksgiving? When you can answer this honestly, Thanksgiving doesn't seem so bad. It's place in your world becomes clearer and it starts to serve a purpose.

After some heavy contemplation, I reached my answer. I make sure to celebrate Thanksgiving every year whole heartedly, often spending it with multiple families, tasting many turkeys, and lingering about Aunt Sisine's long after all other guests have left, to signify to myself that the day after I can officially start celebrating the Christmas season without feeling like a zealous weirdo.

Two weeks ago, I thought I was completely above Thanksgiving. I bought a cd of Christmas hits from Costco, and without paying any attention to Alan's protests, I popped that baby into the cd player and made him listen to it with me as we drove around town with the windows rolled down. As the first song played, I began to feel the Christmas spirit. Two songs later, I realized I was sweating in my t-shirt, even with the windows rolled down. It must have been 80 degrees outside -- talk about killing the mood.

Christmas carols require cold weather, the kind that makes your nose run without your realizing it. I stopped the cd. Even I had to admit, it just wasn't the same. Who was I, this one lone person, to try and hurry up Christmas? Retailers have been trying for years, putting up their Christmas decorations earlier and earlier, some even going so far as to doing it right after Halloween. We all know how strange that feels, as if we had just skipped right past something.... That something, dear friends, is Thanksgiving as we know it, Christmas's own natural prerequisite to entering into the holiday season.

Tree Shopping -- I wanted this one, but it was already sold.

Where are the other trees like it???

OK, this one will do.

Dressing the tree.

Voila!

Check out this little Swedish man!

1 comment:

Roy said...

i want to own a house big enough to fit that first tree.

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