With Halloween coming to a close, a lot of people say that we have made it to the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas time.
However, with the coming of Christmas, an overwhelming pressure of finding the perfect gift for your loved one, and the feeling of massive materialism in a holiday that is supposed to celebrate the birth of our Savior also seems to come. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but in some ways, the pressure that society has put on it makes me struggle to enjoy it fully sometimes.
And with all the talk of Christmas, people seem to forget the actual next holiday on the calendar: Thanksgiving.
To me, Thanksgiving is the opposite of all those pressures. It serves as a sort of calm in the craziness that is life. You get to take a break from the chaos of the end of the semester of school, even it is only officially a three-day break. For many people, it will be the first time that we would have seen their family and friends from back home all semester, which could serve as a breath of fresh air to help finish the semester strong. It is also a time to reflect on the year, and see what you are truly grateful for. Plus, you get the chance to eat some really good food like turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie and all of the different kinds of casserole you can think of (green bean casserole is my personal favorite).
But with all holidays considered, Thanksgiving is one of, if not my favorite holiday throughout the entire year.
Why is it, you might ask?
Well, aside from all the things I mentioned above, in my family, Thanksgiving is rooted in tradition. Every year, as far as I can remember, my house quickly becomes filled with the smell of sweet potato, green bean casseroles, and our family favorite blueberry Jell-O salad with recipes that have been passed down through my family for decades.
Then, at 12 o’clock sharp, me and my family drive out to one of my uncle’s ranches in Hondo. There, we get to see so many family members we have not gotten to see all year and catch up with them. Because of this, I have been able to see my cousins grow from being toddlers to now being a sophomore in high school and starting middle school, and they have seen me grow from a six-year-old to a junior in college. These aunts and uncles have quite literally seen me grow up, just like my parents, and because of that, it has created this close bond that’s hard to replicate.
Finally, after having smells of turkey, rolls, vegetables, casseroles and pies fill the house for hours, around 3 p.m., we always congregate in the kitchen, pray and eat the wonderful food that was prepared. We talk some more then get ready to watch the Dallas Cowboys play football, which usually leads to fun banter back and forth and a Cowboys loss, which as a Green Bay Packers fan just like my dad, I enjoy.
Then we end the night with one of our newest, but most special traditions. The side of the family we see every year is filled with band directors and deep roots in a love of music, so we gather around the fire pit, singing old country songs that my mom and my uncles sang together as kids. After doing this for a couple of hours and everyone hitting that post-meal sleepiness, everyone hugs it out, packs up the empty casserole dishes and starts to head home, which is typically around 11 p.m.
Getting that chance to slow down and reflect on the year you had and also find the good things that happened to you and your loved ones throughout the year. You get to be with and catch up with family, despite some of the political debates, and even catch up with your old friends and tell the tales of the year. That is why I love Thanksgiving so much; It captures the essence of what I feel sometimes is missing from the Christmas season, even if it is just for one day.
So, as we head into this time of the year, you can think about Christmas all you want, I won’t judge you. But please, think about Thanksgiving too. With what we have been through or the past year and a half, it is so important to take a breather and remember the good things that have happened in our lives and help get our minds ready for the end of a year that will hopefully bring happy beginnings.