Turkey and dressing, a day filled to the brim with professional football, the parades and the beginning of holiday sales that you almost have to risk your life to take advantage of. These are just a few of the things many of us will be thankful for come Thursday when we gather around the table with family and friends, some we see often, others it may have been a while.
We will all walk through the motions of saying we’re thankful for health and family, safety and well being, but are we really? I suppose one can make the argument that Thanksgiving has become the “official” start of the holiday season, and in the process it, in a way, can set the tone for our particular season. When I was younger, Thanksgiving was boring to me. It was just a reminder of what Christmas Eve and Christmas Day would be, and how far away they were still. It’s only been recently that I have really begun to enjoy it for its own merit.
I am excited for Thanksgiving now! It’s not because of the food or the fancy dog show, it’s because for the first time in my life I feel very thankful for a lot of people and a lot of amazing opportunities in my life. I couldn’t be more blessed but I should be so much more grateful than I am a majority of the time and Thursday will be my day to attempt to reverse that order.
A couple weeks ago social media and a couple different news broadcasts wasted a fair amount of their energy trying to piss everyone off over a red cup. I would say that most people could care less what any coffee shop puts on their cup, and the cup is definitely not what I want to focus on because I’m one of not-caring people. Instead I want to focus on a statement from Starbucks vice president of design and content, Jeffrey Fields.
In a statement where he explains and defends the cup he simply says that the design of the cup is “embracing the simplicity and quietness” of the season. I don’t know whether or not the explanation is genuine. But I like it. I’m also willing bet that at least a few of the small number of people actually offended by the cup will be attending an expensive and extravagant Christmas production at a church that will most certainly not reflect the simplicity and quietness of the season.
I’ve thought a lot about simplicity and quietness as the holidays have approached this year. We’ve already been watching add after add for this companies newest gizmo and that store’s Black Friday Door Buster, and not a one is the least bit tranquil. Some do a good job masquerading as such, showing us grand scenes of families gathering together and informing us how their store isn’t opening on Thanksgiving so you can have that family time before you come to buy whatever item they sell that you just can’t live without.
I’m not going to bitch and moan about the commercialization of Christmas. I actually enjoy the gifts. I enjoy shopping for loved ones, online that is. All of those things are still fun to me. I agree that there are some people who place too much importance on these things, but I take pride in not being one of them. We’re always being sold something whether it’s the middle of July or Christmas Eve, that’s a fact of life. What I don’t care for is being sold an idea that just isn’t realistic.
So many advertisements present their product or store as being the key to the perfect holiday season. So many shows will have the characters you’ve watched all year meander their way through several holiday themed conundrums only to arrive at a perfectly prepared meal on a perfectly decorated table. I have never once seen the perfect holiday season, and I don’t want it.
We’re so caught up in the romanticized idea of the holidays that the simple joy they bring is replaced by the disappointment of feeling like we’re inadequate because our season didn’t live up to our expectations. This isn’t about the gifts or the decorations, it’s about us. The holidays are just a tiny break from the chaos that is the rest of our lives, but obviously the chaos is still there. The mistake we make is believing that the holidays themselves will somehow make all of that go away when we get all the little details perfectly right.
If you burn the turkey, laugh. If having to cook for thirty people stresses you out, be thankful you have people to cook for. If you just can’t find the gift that a special someone has had their eye on, be grateful that you have a special someone who lets you know what they want because they know you care for them enough to pull your hair out trying to find it.
It’s a time to rejuvenate, not a time to work ourselves to the bone. I know that there are most definitely stressful aspects of the holidays, but I think keeping in mind that the holidays aren’t a natural occurrence nor are the days by themselves divine might help. There days we’ve set aside that for whatever reason you or I happen to be celebrating can give us joy. When we lose sight of the real meaning of the holidays and the real reasons we get to be off work for a couple days, we start trying to forcefully manipulate man made joy into them. Then all we end up with are some awkward family dinners.
This year when I sit down for Thanksgiving dinner I want to be quiet and still. I want to listen to my loved ones more than I talk. I haven’t seen some in over a year, and you never know what the next year brings. I want the messy, crazy, stressful holidays. I don’t want to forget to enjoy those loved ones because I have some false hope that this year we will have the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas. I simply want whatever this year’s season has in store. The good, the bad and the downright unpleasant.
In order to practice what I preach so to speak, I’m not going to ramble like I normally would. Instead, I want to go think about simplicity and quietness some more. Hopefully, over a hot cup of black coffee and a slice of homemade pumpkin pie.