I know this is a losing battle. My favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, has almost disappeared, taken over by the commercialization of Christmas. While this has gradually occurred in years past, the degree to which Christmas has supplanted Thanksgiving this year is staggering. Thanksgiving, the holiday of food and family, is no longer visible in stores. Christmas trees have been present in the malls since early September and now are decorated in many homes. It is impossible to find any Thanksgiving decorations or products in stores, while Christmas decorations abound everywhere. The melding of these two holidays together has finally occurred. Our family has even joined the fray; our granddaughters apologized to me for putting up their Christmas trees before Thanksgiving!
I have always waited until at least December 1 to decorate for Christmas, thinking that giving Christmas a month is sufficient. Since most people do not take down their Christmas decorations until early January, if decorating for Christmas occurs as early as even the weekend after Thanksgiving, the commercialization of Christmas has almost a month and a half to take hold. Is a month not enough? While I certainly have shopped for Christmas before that, I have resisted any evidence of Christmas in our home before at least December 1. I have wanted to give Thanksgiving its due honor, and mixing these two holidays together takes away from Thanksgiving. At least that is how it feels to me. Since my birthday is November 29th, I also want to celebrate that day before the frenzy of Christmas begins.
Perhaps my concern about Thanksgiving being supplanted by Christmas is because our family celebrates Thanksgiving in a major way. The last two years before COVID, there were sixty-five of us gathered for Thanksgiving in our home in Raleigh, a gradual increase in the thirty-six years that we have gathered. Most of those years we have gathered in Raleigh, with family traveling from Maryland to Florida to come together in Raleigh. Our celebration lasts almost a week, with some arriving the weekend before Thanksgiving and the last ones leaving the weekend after. We are a family of cooks, and enjoy cooking together the many meals that are required to feed us for the days that we are together.
This year is a special year for celebrations since most of us were not able to gather in large groups in 2020 due to COVID. Some of us in our nuclear family gathered in 2020 for Thanksgiving with our daughter and her family in Georgia, and others in our family gathered in smaller groups, choosing safety over celebrating in larger groups. Our nuclear family came together in Raleigh for Christmas.
This year our celebrations will be especially meaningful because it may be the last year we will host Thanksgiving in Raleigh since our home is for sale. We have been blessed with a large home that could accommodate our large family gathering, but as we downsize, that will no longer be the case. While I hope we will find ways to still gather with our distant relatives throughout the year, it is unlikely that we will come together as a large family for Thanksgiving after this year. Since our Christmas gathering is a smaller number of us, mainly our nuclear family, whether we gather in Raleigh or elsewhere, most of us in our nuclear family will likely be together for Christmas, and even Thanksgiving.
Traditions are very meaningful to me, even as I recognize the necessity of change and new traditions. I will miss our large family Thanksgivings. I will miss being together with family most of whom we do not see the rest of the year because of distance and busy lives. I will miss cooking together. I will miss seeing the cousins enjoy playing together. I will miss being with our elder statesmen, some of whom are no longer with us. Dad Fralix, Uncle Barry, and Chuck Monahan, you will be missed this year and all years to come. We will also miss being with some of our family this year who for different reasons will not be with us in Raleigh.
We will gather in Raleigh for Thanksgiving this year with (only!) forty-five to fifty of us. However many grace your Thanksgiving table, may your holiday be a wonderful one. As we all celebrate food and family at Thanksgiving, may we be especially grateful for our blessings, knowing how fortunate we are to be healthy enough to gather together.