Growing up, this has always been my favorite time of year. As soon as Halloween ended, the domino effect kicked in for counting down the days until Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. So many holidays in such a short time.
For me as a child, the holidays meant time at home with my family. We always went to my grandma or my aunt’s house on Thanksgiving and Christmas. There would be snow on the ground, twinkling lights all around, and just an overall feeling of excitement. Or, good cheer, if you will.
Waking up on the week of a holiday always held a cloud of excitement. There was something magical in the air. All around I could feel it, and always assumed everyone else could too. The days at school would be filled with holiday-themed lessons and activities, all leading up to the big early out and the holiday break.
I loved everything about it. I loved the snacks, the stories. I loved preparing my list of all I was thankful for that year, and more importantly, what I wanted for Christmas. I loved the Christmas music, the hot chocolate. The twinkle of the Christmas lights while I watched Christmas movies and 90210 with my mom.
Everyone we would run into would be buzzing with energy, ready to get on to the next holiday activity. People were happy. People were kind.
One year around this time I remember my mom made me macaroni and cheese for dinner. It was special because she allowed me to eat it in the living room in front of our lit up Christmas tree so I wouldn’t miss the movie on tv about the Christmas mouse. A few bites in I told her something wasn’t right, but being the strict, no-buts mom she was she told me I had to stop complaining and eat every bite of it or I could kiss that mouse movie goodbye. So. I stuffed those shells in my mouth and 2.3 minutes later threw them up all over the floor.
Even that was magical.
I remember bundling up on the couch while my mother would be out snow-blowing our driveway and sidewalk during a blizzard; through the window watching the snow fly up and around and dance in the air.
Every Thanksgiving I would stand in the kitchen right in the middle of everyone’s way and beg for a taste, just like my dog Gracie does now. God I hate when she does that. But I loved it. I always wanted the turkey skin (come on don’t pretend like it’s not the best thing you’ve ever tasted) and usually my Aunt Teresa would sneak me a few bites. Just like we do to Gracie.
I would be starving for hours. Complaining while watching the parade on tv. Isn’t it time to eat YET?!
Then I would stuff so much gravy in my body that I’d be comatose for at least two hours until it was time to snack on the leftovers and make a turkey sandwich. I loved those post-meal turkey sandwiches.
We would take turns as a family passing around the newspaper ads to scope out which store was having the best Black Friday sales. I loved every minute of it.
It dawned on me yesterday as I woke up that I didn’t feel that magic in the air. Thanksgiving will be at my house this year. My mom has to work and won’t be attending. I have a long to-do list at work of all the things that need to be finished before Thursday, and I still need to find my recipes and go to the grocery store while navigating around hundreds of people who can’t seem to understand that aisles are for two-way traffic, and clean the house and vacuum and pick up the 42 million toys that keep migrating to our main living space, and pray that the snow doesn’t come anywhere near Iowa this year. We still have bath nights to complete and workouts to finish, and I’ve found myself looking for healthier versions of the comfort foods I’ve always loved and coming up with a game plan of how I can eat better in two days.
Somewhere along the way, I lost my magic.
If I had the time to think about it, which I obviously don’t if you read my laundry list above, it would make me incredibly sad. I know that if I take a moment to breathe, I will be able to find it again. But why is it the norm that as we become adults we say goodbye to what made us truly, wholly, unequivocally, magically US as children? Why do I no longer enjoy the things that used to keep me up at night, abuzz with excitement?
I hope that as I do try to take a moment to slow down, to be in the moment and remember how much I used to love this, I will love it not only for myself but for my son as well. I want him to experience that electric feeling. I want his memories to be just as special as mine were growing up. I don’t want him to feel burdened by the stress of his parents. I never felt my mother’s stress, and I know she had to have been because she had to scrub chewed mac and cheese from her carpet for crying out loud.
I want him to wake up each morning with the magic, and go to sleep that night wanting to do it all over again.
Feeling the magic, my friends. Is what the holidays are all about.