This Thanksgiving while much of the country is dressing in their very best and traveling to be with family, I’ll be doing what I always do on Thanksgiving - sleeping in, starting the turkey when I feel like it, and it wearing my comfiest clothes.
For a long time, I woke up really early to put the turkey in so it would be ready by about 2pm, the time when my mother and HER mother always had Thanksgiving dinner. I would wake up at “the crack” (as a good friend of mine calls it), spend a sleepy, thirty minutes getting the turkey stuffed and in the oven and then brace myself for a frantic eight hours of cooking.
It took me a long time to finally say, WTF? Why am I working so hard to have Thanksgiving dinner at LUNCH time? Seriously, I am SO not a morning person. For me, one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is that I don’t have to wake up at 6am to get the kids off to school. Why, oh why, then, was I getting up at such an ungodly hour only to have dinner way too early and then sit around the rest of the day wondering what all the fuss was about?
The answer, my friends, is tradition. My mother had done it that way because HER mother had done it that way. But I am nothing if not rebellious, so I decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore. I was going to sleep in, get the turkey in the oven when I was damn good and ready, and spend the day watching movies with my kids in between leisurely bouts in the kitchen.
Sound like a fantasy?
Our Thanksgiving looks like this; I wake up around 9am, have coffee, hang out with the kids a bit, and get the turkey ready for the oven. Once it’s nice and toasty and on its way to being dinner, I take a shower and put on stay-at-home clothes (this usually involves leggings or jeans and a t-shirt plus an old sweater and Ugg boots). Then we spend the next few hours watching movies, playing Scrabble, throwing pies in the oven (yes, they’re homemade! but I have HELPERS!), cutting stuff up, and generally putting everything together, well, whenever! At some point, we break out cheese and crackers, shrimp, and misc. snacks.
Oh! And WINE.
We usually have dinner around 6pm. Or 7pm. Or 8pm. I don’t know. Whenever it’s ready.
No one complains. We have SNACKS. And comfy clothes. And MOVIES.
Most important of all, we have each other.
And I guess that’s the thing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to realize that I don’t have to do things the way everyone else does them. I don’t have to think the way everyone else does or behave the way everyone else does or believe in the things everyone else believes in. I can just be me. Some people won’t like it - or me. And that’s okay. But I am happiest, and the people who matter to me are happiest, when we do things in the way that makes sense for US.
So I guess that’s what I’m most thankful for today. The ability to think for myself, create my own traditions, accept and even embrace the things that make me and my family different from everyone else.
And, of course, for late mornings, lazy afternoons, good food, and the people who give my life meaning.
This holiday, I wish you all that brand of happiness.