Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Our family is staying here in Sioux City, just us. I'm not cooking; we'll eat out somewhere. We have absolutely nothing special or significant planned other than relaxing and enjoying each other's company. And I am thrilled.
I realize that sounds kind of bad to say I'm happy to not be spending Thanksgiving with extended family. I feel a little bit guilty saying it. Really, it's not a statement about my family and how much I love or enjoy them. It's just a statement about Thanksgiving.
The ten years we lived in New Jersey, we were never with family for Thanksgiving. Because we were going to be traveling back to Kansas a month later for Christmas and staying for a while, we couldn't justify spending the money for Thanksgiving, too. The first year, I think I tried making a traditional dinner and quickly realized the silliness of that -- neither Keith nor I are crazy about turkey and interested in eating the leftovers for weeks, and Leslie being only two didn't make much of her own dent in the feast.
So, we started our own Thanksgiving traditions. We'd hang around in our pjs all morning long, watching the parades on TV. (Yes, we did actually take the train up to NYC to see the parade live . . . once.) I made a leisurely breakfast of waffles or pancakes or something and then we just hung around until we got hungry for lunch. Then we'd usually head over to Cracker Barrel for our feast, come back home and be lazy the rest of the day, maybe ending the evening with a Christmas movie on TV.
We always spend time casually talking about all the things we are thankful for. One year, when Creative Memories had just come out with a paper punch in the shape of a leaf, we punched lots of little red, orange and yellow leaves, wrote on them things we were thankful for, strung them up and hung them on the fireplace for a couple months.
Thanksgiving became one of my favorite holidays in New Jersey. No stress. No expectations. Just a quiet day with me, my family and God, truly taking the time to appreciate our blessings. It was a great way to prepare for the crazy holiday season that I refuse to allow to start until the next day. I wish I could find a way to redeem ALL of the holidays like this and make them something that adds joy and meaning to my life more than stress and hassle.