First of all the Thanksgiving Thanks. Thank you to my vacuum cleaner for breaking down the Monday before. Thank you to my oven for self-destructing in a show of appliance solidarity. Thanks to no kids in town to celebrate, thus no turkey to cook and no pies to bake. No table to set, no mess to clean up, no leftover casseroles, no dirty dishes to wash. No house to clean, no extra bed linens.
Uh, this is taking an odd turn here.
May lead to a terrible misunderstanding.
An unforgivable offense.
Thanks for no Thanksgiving?
Please, someone out there, hands in sink, dish towel slung over shoulder, gazing at a post-it note covered refrigerator with to-do, must-do, have-to items waiting for a response, some action...help me here! I have a confession.
I didn't miss it.
I had a BBQ sandwich and fries in front of the TV watching football games and lounging in my pajamas with my thirty odd turkey honorarium badges that read "Is it time for turkey yet?" pinned to my robe. I wrote my name in dust motes on the coffee table. I took a nap. I am a bad person. I didn't have to tell you. I did anyway. To get the guilt off my chest, and to draw attention to ALL those badges.
Sometimes you need a break in the routine.
Sometimes you need to miss others.
And sometimes you need to be missed.
Ergo, the subject of giving.
Thanksgiving is the supposed lead off hitter. A time to be grateful for what-we-have. Followed, in less than twenty-four hours, by Black Friday, when what-we-want shows up in lines and fist fights and scorching hot credit cards.
Lists. Ads. Specials. Deals. Door-busters.
I am not a crab. I am not a Scrooge. I am not a holiday basher. Honest. What I will admit to is "Fa-La-La 'Tis the Season" syndrome. I see Thanksgiving coming and know the black hole of December is about to swallow me up. The stores stock Halloween candy on July 4th. Thanksgiving merchandise is 75% off the day after Halloween. Christmas music runs in a continuous loop from then on. It feels like a marathon and I am already hobbled.
Like the running of the bulls, I know I am fleeing something and there are folks behind and ahead of me and we are all churning our legs forward, in a mad rush.
What makes me laugh is that what we are running from is the bull.
And that, my dear friends, is the best direction for all of us.
So, whether you asked me or not, I will tell you why I feel better about the holidays this year. I passed the baton. I was given a chance to slow down and gather my wits. My non-vacuumed, turkeyless, empty table wits. I had the opportunity to miss. I had the opportunity to be missed.
Friday morning. Music. Step stool. Me. Pulling down Christmas decoration boxes from the tall shelves in the basement.
Presents for being present.
Ornaments wrinkled with age, made by my children in pre-school. A small lighted Christmas tree rescued from the farm of my husband's youth. Glittery stars, jingle bells, snowmen, snowflakes made of popsicle sticks. Each a memory-jogging gift of Christmases past. Strings of knotted lights, gently unkinked and draped across the trees in the backyard, twinkling in the dark. The tree, indoors, ornamented one-at-a-time, and tied up in bows.
A Santa here. A reindeer there.
Just like wedding tokens, something old, something new. something borrowed, something true.
Habit is not a tradition. It is an almost mindless act of repetition for repetition sake. Christmas should never become a habit. It should be a conscious act of giving and receiving with heartfelt intention.
Don't become so absorbed in reliving old memories that there is no room left for making new ones.
My guess is that you already have what you want.
To love and be loved.
add it to your wish list.
Christmas Bell Ringers. Even if I don't make a deposit in the kettle, they bless me. I believe them. With my whole heart. I feel blessed. I smile inside as we smile at one another.
So here is my blessing for you.
If this year,
life is not going as planned,
perhaps you need your bell rung.
There is a reason for the season.
The perfect gift.
It has your name on it.