The forgotten holiday


The classic turkey dinner that many Americans eat on Thanksgiving

Is it okay to listen to “celebrate Christmas before Thanksgiving”?

This is a question that has troubled our nation for decades. How far back can we cut Christmas before the holiday consumes the autumn season altogether?

Don’t get me wrong, I adore Christmas. It’s my absolute favorite time of the year. I simply believe the fall and Thanksgiving season deserves more recognition than it receives. 

Thanksgiving is buried under piles of Christmas cards and tree ornaments weeks before it has even happened.

I’m not even a fall fanatic like a lot of people. I’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte, and my family’s only fall decorations are a few stuffed pumpkins. However, I will always find comfort in Thanksgiving. 

My devotion to the holiday stems from the traditions my family has held for as long as I can remember.

From the first day of November to Thanksgiving dinner, my family and I write small things we are thankful for on paper leaves. We write on them every night, and they are then put up on our ‘Thankful Tree’—a tree decal that is stuck on our kitchen wall each year. One month’s worth of thoughts about things I care about collected onto one wall in our kitchen. 

For the entirety of Thanksgiving week, the aroma of freshly baked bread and the tangy scent of mashed-up cranberries spills out of the kitchen, wafting through the rest of the house. 

I will never be able to smell baked apples and cinnamon or hear the sound of the cranberries popping in a pot over the stove without thinking of the few days before Thanksgiving spent with my family. 

Then, there is arguably the best part of thanksgiving: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I don’t know what it is about the parade, but for some reason, it is so delightful for me to see the absurd creations of new balloons presented each year. 

Sitting on my couch and laughing with my family about each new act shown on the TV has always been the height of entertainment for me growing up. 

Thanksgiving afternoon is always uneventful. I usually try to do two main things.

By mid-afternoon, the usually empty table is full to the brim with dishes and silverware. ”

One, stay close enough to the kitchen to get a preview of the upcoming dinner. Two, stay far enough away from the kitchen to avoid having to do unwanted chores to prepare for dinner. 

While for most people, the main purpose of Thanksgiving is dinner, it is not the highlight of the holiday for me. 

I have never had much of an affinity for most types of meat—including turkey—which proves most unhelpful when a turkey is the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner food. 

I also don’t harbor a great love for mashed potatoes, though I don’t dislike them completely. 

However, I do await dinner itself with high expectations. 

The rickety fold-up chairs are brought up from the basement, and the piano bench is stuck at the end. We have to pull out our dining room table to fit twelve people instead of four. 

Table cloths, placemats, water jugs, and sparkling grape juice. By mid-afternoon, the usually-empty table is full to the brim with dishes and silverware. 

Laughter and chatter of my relatives eating appetizers fills the kitchen; it feels to me like the official kick-off for the holiday season. 

Cousins back from college, aunts, uncles, and grandparents pile into our house. The kitchen is crowded with more than smells now. It is crowded with people and voices; family and love.

The same stories that are repeated year after year are told again, glorified, and exaggerated a little bit more by my family each time.

The night goes on and the laughter gets louder. My mom cries every time we talk about what we’re thankful for. My sister and cousins and I laugh at our family. We all stuff ourselves full of turkey and pie until no one wants to even look at another piece of food. 

After all of my relatives leave for the night, I will officially call it the Christmas season.

It is finally time for Christmas pajamas, peppermint hot cocoa, Christmas music, and the first Christmas movie of the year: Miracle on 34th Street. 

I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, and it occurs in my favorite season. Each year when it gets closer to Christmas time, I can feel the excitement building inside me. 

But then, I have to remind myself of Thanksgiving.

A day of standing in the kitchen with loved ones, laying around in front of the TV, and laughing at the dinner table. 

Thanksgiving is often passed over. Just because it is a month away from Christmas, it is seen as a normal day in the middle of the holiday season. But, it shouldn’t be. 

While it may not be among the most interesting of all the holidays, Thanksgiving deserves to be celebrated and recognized with as much joy as any other holiday.