Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving is better than Christmas

Over the River and Through the Woods

     No offense to Christmas... It is a wonderful holiday at its core but ever since I became an adult I've secretly held the  belief that Thanksgiving is actually better than Christmas.  Here are my reasons why:

1.  Reasonable expectations.  Christmas is lovely but for Christians, it's the pinnacle of holidays. Until you become jaded like me, you tell yourself that you "can't wait until Christmas," and that this will be the "best Christmas ever." You make insane plans that will take you weeks to execute, forgetting that you will also have to live a normal life (which usually in- cludes things like working and doing chores) in the weeks preceding Christmas. You spend weeks scouting out the perfect location for your Christmas card shoot only to find that it's now too late to actually send out the Christmas cards.  There are no such high expectations for Thanksgiving.  The biggest obstacle will be living out the song "Over the River  and Through the Woods,"  which is not very likely.  Then again, judging from what I've been learning on Discovery Channel reality shows, if you live in the Yukon or some where similar, you might be able to take a sleigh through white and drifted snow to grandmas house for Thanksgiving but you'll probably be having smoked salmon for dinner.

Carrots, Cauliflower, Lettuce and Potatoes

2.  Minimal advance preparations.  In theory, Christmas requires just an open, thankful heart and an appreciation for the miracle of Christ's birth.  In reality, Christmas requires all sorts of supplies: fake greenery, lights, sparkley decorations,   Christmas cards, hot chocolate, baked goods, children in cute outfits, snow, a guy with a snow white beard (I know lots of guys with salt and pepper colored goatees, but no snow white beards. This right here is a problem) and most of all,   an ability to see into hearts and minds of our loved ones so that we can purchase their Perfect Present. 
Thanksgiving, on the other hand, requires food and other people.   Even if you don't have any friends, if you offer food, you're quite likely to find some friends willing to eat it with you.If you're a horrible cook, you still have the option of being the guest.  For dinner, turkey is, of course, traditional, but if you are a vegetarian, you could call yourself a humanitarian  (or a turkeytarian?) watch the President pardon a turkey for Thanksgiving and then say you're following his example.   I  was thinking the only advance preparation you had to do was purchase your food the day before, but even THAT is not necessary - the grocery store a few miles from my house is open on Thanksgiving day from 7-3 p.m.  You can even for get the cranberries like the girl in the song by The Waitresses, as long as you remember them before 3:00 p.m. 

Colorful peppers - waiting for Thanksgiving Dinner!

3.  Food and conversation. Christmas traditions are varied but can be so complex, is it any wonder so many of them are bound to not live up to your expectations?  For example, when I was in second grade, I feel asleep watching the  moon through my bedroom window, just KNOWING that if I watched that exact spot and stayed awake long enough, I would  surely see Santa's sled fly by, since in all the pictures I saw, it was always flying in front of the moon.  Unfortunately, I fell asleep too early. When you get a bit older your "perfect tradition" might involve spending a little time with your significant other who probably has vastly differing ideas of what is the perfect tradition - any compromise would mean slightly mar  ring the perfect vision in your head.  When you have kids of your own, your tradition probably involves multiple families  AND running home in time ensure that Santa slides his fat self noiselessly down your too-thin-for-a-person chimney      and deposits his presents, eats the cookies, drinks the milk, takes the carrot for the reindeer, cleans up his mess and    does it all before the kiddies awaken at 4 am and decide that they want something they never put on their list, but it's  ok because "Santa will KNOW cause he knows everything."  In contrast, my friend, dear Thanksgiving involves eating, often to the point of feeling like a ball with a head, arms and legs poking out the sides, and then lingering around the table or family room, talking about inconsequential things while you digest your food and wait for the next round of stuffing yourself.  Can you handle it?  I can!

4.  Less shopping and no wrapping!  I don't know about you, but I hate shopping.  I hate it for two reasons:  I'm not sure what to buy, and I wish I had more money to buy it.  Christmas requires multiple trips to countless stores.  If you shop online, there is always the worry that the thing you ordered will arrive and not fit, or be broken and require a trip to the post office and more waiting for a return.  Also, I applaud anyone who can do all of their shopping this way.   Thanksgiving may involve more than one store, but that's pretty much at your discretion.  You can chose to run your Thanksgiving from one supermarket and no one would think you were a Thanksgiving Slacker, especially if you have a beautiful grocery store like Wegmans near your house, as my sister does.  If I had a Wegmans near MY house, I'd probably spend my holidays right there in the store.  As for the wrapping...  I usually kill my Christmas Eve wrapping instead of enjoying the day with my family.  I spend hours wrapping presents only to see them unwrapped barely 12 -24 hours later, and turned into a mess on the floor that invariably involves something important getting thrown out by accident.  The only wrapping I experience on Thanksgiving is me wrapping myself in a nice fluffy sweater when I become cold due to diverting all my body's energy to my stomach to take on the task of digestion.  

5.  On a more serious note, Thanksgiving makes you find something to be thankful for.  If you think to what we learned about how Thanksgiving began (even if it's embellished and not completely true), you realize there are things you can be thankful for.  The food on your table, the people you're sharing it with, the fact that you're alive.  If you're stuffing food in your mouth on Thanksgiving and sitting with people who are doing the same, you have something to be thankful for.  And that's enough to give you a reason to hope for the future.   

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