With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to prepare yourself for countless get-togethers with family and friends over the next few months. You’re looking forward to seeing some of them, but others you’re dreading. And the bigger the crowd, the better the chance you’ll see someone you’ve been avoiding. Stay focused. The goal is to survive without losing your mind.
The holidays bring out the good, the bad, and the ugly in every family.
Back when my sister and I still believed in the big fat guy (spoiler alert: Santa isn’t real!), our parents employed a common parenting tactic to keep us in line. Starting as early as Thanksgiving, they’d threaten that Santa would bring no presents on Christmas if we misbehaved. Fearing the worst, we’d be angels for the next five minutes, until one of us did something to the other, and all hell broke loose.
Within a few hours, the inevitable happened. One of us “ruined the holidays.” Now that we’re older, this has become an ongoing joke in our family that we laugh over every time something goes wrong. My sister and I have both been guilty, but fortunately–shout out to my sis–you’re up this year.
That being said, the good really does outweigh the bad, and for that we should all be thankful. With all the hustle and bustle, we sometimes forget how many amazing memories are made on these large occasions. And with a family as large as mine, memories are different based on which room or table you wind up in that year.
My most cherished times were actually Thanksgiving morning at my grandparents’ house. As a “homecoming” of sorts, Thanksgiving Eve has become the biggest party night of the year for many. And from the time my fake ID worked, my friends and I would stumble from bar to bar down Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia until they closed up shop and kicked us out. Since my grandparents’ house was within stumbling distance from the bars, I “quietly” let myself in, found a spare bed and passed out. When I wandered downstairs in the morning, Pop would greet me with a very loud hello and invite me to the table for a greasy breakfast while Gram worked on stuffing and mashed potatoes.
For better or worse, the years passed and I climbed out of my bar-hopping days. Even so, my husband and I would stop there hours before the rest of my family to sit at that same kitchen table, help Gram get the appetizers ready, pull the birds out of the oven, and have a beer with Pop before the whole gang arrived.
The hours I spent sitting at that table each year were some of the best times with my grandparents, time I had all to myself, memories made that I will never forget, and for that I am thankful.
It’s easy to focus on the stress, the chaos, the traffic, the family dramatics. But this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to take a step back at one point during the day and take a look around at your friends and family and keep a mental snapshot of that moment in time, because you’ll never get it back. How would you rather remember it?
To end on a fun note, my husband’s grandfather, who would have been nearly 100 this year, always sung this ridiculous song every Thanksgiving. This is now a holiday tradition of ours, one that will live through my son and a great tribute to the family that he knows well and those never had the chance to meet. I hope this brings a smile to your face like it does to mine each year:
Thanksgiving Day is coming and Mr. Turkey said
How very careful I must be or I will lose my head.
The pumpkin heard the turkey and said oh me oh my!
How very careful I must be or I’ll be pumpkin pie.
Happy Turkey Day!