Thanksgiving Family Time – Preparation!

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So that was a long hiatus.  Sorry about that.  Katie picked up and moved to the South, and I am just plugging along.

Since we’ve been gone, some things have been happening in this crazy world.

But instead of waxing philosophic about that, how’s about some hilarity?

Thanksgiving is coming, and we all know what that means….  get out yo fat pants, time for some FEASTING!

Thanksgiving jokes? Why yes please!

Animals dressed up for the occasion?  Oh hell yes! (those feet!!)

 

Why can’t Christmas wait its turn?  Because the mall hates turkeys, that’s why.  And also, consumerism, and all that.

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Thanksgiving turns into “how many houses can we go to in 1 day, how much food can we shove into our faces, what clothes will survive this test?”

I already had two extended families who require my presence, and then I went and got married.  So now I have three Thanksgivings to figure out.  Oh, and my mom likes to do a small “just us” Thanksgiving the night before.  As a preview.  For the exact same thing.  The next day.  Turkey coma.

Standard Thanksgiving cuisine:  Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, pumpkin pie.  Anything else is just extra, filling, unnecessary. Stuffing from a box?  No.  Make that shit.  With real bread.  And some sausage and maybe oysters…

Family coming in from out of town, people being hungover from being out the night before (or in my cousins’ case, never having gone to bed and still drunk from the nigh before), filing into the too-close seats on the loooong table, casually switching name cards to sit next to the cousin you want to sit next to / avoiding that one relative that just …  you know….

Last year was my now-husband’s first Thanksgiving with my dad’s extended family and he was….  overwhelmed.  The amount of yelling, stories, drinking, hilarity, accents…  just The Davis Way, in general….  He has now recovered…  just in time!!!  Mwahahahaa!

This year, we have been lucky enough to get the family together a few extra times, between my wedding and my brother’s wedding, so I am thrilled to see everyone again in a week, but I also need to start prepping now for the hilarity and such.  We will miss my brother and sister-in-law this year, but the volume may be down a bit…  🙂

 

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Christmas Stepping on Thanksgiving’s Toes

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We all know how, every year, it feels like Christmas songs and decorations are encroaching earlier and earlier. It’s August 1, and Walmart has FREE HOLIDAY LAYAWAY commercials on TV. And yes, that is Walmart, and Walmart is soulless. But this is happening across the board.

Before Halloween is over, I started to see holiday decorations in stores and popup ads online. First thing Saturday morning, November 1, all Halloween and autumn items are exiled to the 50% Off Clearance racks, and Christmas is in full swing. Garlands, carols, lights, rotating singing snowmen. It’s all here and out and READY!

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Now, I love Christmas and the Holiday season as much as anyone (well, not as much as Sabrina, but who could?). But what happened to fall? Autumn? THANKSGIVING? And worst of all, our commercialism has turned our relaxing family time holiday into BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING-PALOOZA! Now starting at 8pm Thanksgiving Night! UGH!!! People completely forget being grateful and go full swing into trampling, punching to get that last toy, sleeping outside in line to be the first ones inside…

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As a kid, Thanksgiving was just another giant family dinner, sitting at the cousin table, playing games and getting yelled at not to run in the house…. Giant family dinners? My family used to roll like that every few weeks for monthly family birthday parties. Maybe more autumn-themed food, but I didn’t look forward to Thanksgiving the way all kids pine for Christmas. It was fine. It was dinner at Grandmom’s and Grandpop’s. Being grateful? Yeah, I grew up going around the table, saying what we were grateful for that day every night.

But now, as an adult, I find that Thanksgiving is just as meaningful as Christmas, and much calmer, less stressful, and more affordable!

For my family, holidays = family. And while both Thanksgiving and Christmas are food-filled, family-designated days, I have found that I have more time to sit back and enjoy my family on Thanksgiving. There are no distractions of shuffling gifts – did you get this, I left this in the car, is that your size, do you already have that – I am not running off to 4 other family gatherings (yes people, 4), and I can just enjoy the people I am with, catch up, enjoy food and wine, reminisce, and share stories of lost loved ones.

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I am no longer focused on gifts, who got me what, did I get what I asked for, how many thank you cards do I need to write (and yes, Mom, I always write thank you cards). Now, I am on Pinterest thinking of food I can bring to gatherings, how I can participate, looking forward to seeing cousins who have grown up and moved away, or are off at college, out of towners, and new significant others.

I would ask everyone to give Thanksgiving its due time, for it is a peaceful day of remembrance of our blessings and our families. Don’t rush past it. (I am not saying you cannot start shopping for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, just don’t go free fall into tinsel quite yet).

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On that note, enjoy this humorous link. Adult Content Warning 🙂

Reasons Why Thanksgiving Is the Most Underrated Holiday

Family Journey – Lauren Davis

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The family, that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our innermost hearts, ever quite wish to.  – Dodie Smith (author of 101 Dalmatians)

This past weekend, my extended family made a trek up to the mountainous town of Waitsfield, VT, to say goodbye to a beloved son, father, husband, friend, cousin, or, in my case, uncle. Jim was quite literally a man for all seasons; energetic, boisterous, opinionated, intense, “bullish”, determined, loyal, and loving. He was not gentle, but he was a powerful presence, someone around whom people gathered.

I will not attempt to eulogize Jim, for the speakers this past weekend truly captured his spirit and his life, but I will share some remembrances about the weekend.

After a gruelingly long drive up in the back seat of the family SUV, regressing to adolescent singing, poking, eye rolling, getting annoyed and loving the togetherness, exhausted but excited to see everyone, we emerged to the chilly, clean air of the mountains, surrounded by family, hugs, support, laughter, tears, and a feeling that we were all experiencing a fragment of Jim’s last year as a retired man embracing a quiet life for the first time in his 60+ years.

Along with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, my family was joined by Jim’s cousins, in-laws, family friends from high school, college, and throughout the years. Family flew in from Africa, from Alaska, from Ohio, from all over, to say goodbye, to remember, to support, and to just “be” with the powerfully rooted tree of family that has become the backbone and touchstone of all of our lives.

We have all experienced losses over the years. We have celebrated lives and mourned deaths, we have gathered for weddings, graduations, new babies, and more, but our family is truly at its best when someone is in need. When someone we love is hurting, when we are all hurting, the far reaches of the Earth clench in, and we all retreat into the warm den of family. And just “be”.

For those who have never experienced the uplifting hug of 100 people, you most likely think I am exaggerating. I assure you, I am not.

For many of us in the younger generation, Jim was an occasional visitor, a sometime Cape May participant. He was not a fixture, but a surprise and always-welcome guest. Many cousins observed that while they did not necessarily have a tangible relationship with their uncle, his absence will be felt at a bone deep level. Our family has been fractured. The six siblings are now five and that can never be healed.

Watching our grandparents and parents in such pain, watching the pillars of strength of one’s life crumble in heartbreak is physically painful to experience. We found ourselves in shock and shaken to our cores, because those who have seemed unshakeable, were shaken. Those who we have leaned on, now leaned on us.

Despite the tears, this weekend was beautiful. A gorgeous sendoff for a wonderfully loved man. A burial, a service, a reception, many repeated and dragged out goodbyes, and then another ten-hour drive home, we all left this weekend a little more at peace than we entered it. A little closer to normal. And although Jim’s family and friends may not yet be ready to feel comforted, the family octopus with 100 tentacles is always there to pull us in and enclose us when we are in need, and my family will always be ready and willing, pushy sometimes, to help, to love, to “be”.

At A Loss – Lauren

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When we lose someone in our family, it often doesn’t matter how close you are to that person, how often you see them, where they live. What matters is the deep roots of family and the shared experiences and love. 

This past Friday, I lost an uncle. A healthy, vibrant man, full of life and energy. He exercised daily and had retired the year before. A shocking and powerful aneurism and stroke left him without neural activity immediately.

His wife and children were able to get to him to say goodbye. But nothing can prepare you for a loss that sudden and shocking in someone still so young, 61.

It’s funny how there are no words to express a loss, or sympathy. People offer condolences and support, food, chores, an ear to listen and a should to cry on. And these are all wonderful things. It brings us all closer and it helps us remember we are not going through our mourning alone. No, a platter of food cannot staunch the heartache, but the effort means that someone is thinking about us and that we don’t have to worry about that one extra detail. Flowers may be overpriced and wilt quickly, but they are a reminder that we are loved and that people are thinking of us. 

I find people’s reactions to loss, their own and other people’s, strange, as some people drop everything and take over details, some shut down, some need to surround themselves with loved ones to talk and cry and reminisce, and some want to hide in their beds alone and mourn.

There’s not such thing as the “right” way to handle grief. But I did have the uplifting experience this weekend of witnessing a family buoyed up by each other and the support of love and family across the country (and world), sending love, stories, photos, food, flowers, and millions of prayers. My family is huge, my mother is one of 6, there are 20 grandchildren, and my grandparents are in their 80s and going strong. And this is the first loss we’ve experienced within our close family.

Everyone descended upon my grandparents’ home, aunts and uncles, cousins, significant others, friends. We simply sat and chatted and cried and joked. We were together. We couldn’t do anything, as our uncle’s family lives out of town, but just to be together and to feel the outpouring of support and love was a beautiful gift.

I have no real message today or funny pictures to post. I just wanted to express my gratitude for my family and to remind everyone out there to share their love and support freely.   We never know how we long we have on this earth, but remember, don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. Aka – tell everyone you love them. Don’t worry about the petty things. Be well, my friends.

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