When I was in 7th and 8th grade, my English teacher would always wonder aloud what an alien who just landed on earth would think about certain situations. She was getting us to see life from a different perspective. And, you know, I think I'd be a super-confused outer-space species if I landed in the USA during the last week of November.
Can you imagine? There are fall leaves and turkeys next to snowflakes and elves with a splash of scary ghouls hanging from trees (Yup, I have actually seen at least a dozen houses that still have Halloween decor strewn about their lawns...) It's a time spent with family, eating a whole lotta delicious food and really taking a moment to be grateful for what we have. Until we turn around and go shopping because we must buy all.the.things. And the music sings of the most wonderful time of the year which isn't actually happening right now. "Holiday" drinks are available, not the national holiday we're celebrating this month, but for the one more than 30 days away that stores and malls and banks and people-a-plenty have also already decorated for. It's not yet Thanksgiving and we're pumpkined out, already feasting our eyes on the beauty of Christmastime.
Now, don't get me wrong--I think it's great that we eventually find so much cause for the celebration of the birth of Christ, I'm just not so sure it's a great idea to celebrate this holiday before Advent is even upon us! And when I say "we" I mean we. I'm pointing fingers at this strange cultural phenomenon we find ourselves stuck in the middle of each November, but also pointing a big, fat, flashing arrow right back at myself.
Because I luvah me some Christmastime.
The teensiest bit of a chill in the air and my thoughts sprint right to Christmas carols and cookies and decorations. There's this fluttering of my stomach while the Nutcracker theme frolicks around my head. Oh the season of wrapping gifts and receiving Christmas cards and delicious cookies...Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la...
wait....it's...the middle of November.
When I wake up with Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree stuck in my head (like this morning), I have to remind myself that Thanksgiving marks more than just the beginning of another season. It is a holiday where we have the chance to focus on what is most important to us and verbalize our gratitude. We gather for a delicious meal with the people we love and celebrate what we have been gifted with over the last year. And did you know that scientists have proven that one of the greatest contributing factors to overall happiness is how much gratitude you show?
I must say, happiness is an understatement to what I feel about this past year. I'm thankful for the life of my son, for having the opportunity to spend so much time with him. I'm thankful for the constant support of my husband, for his patience and willingness to do whatever is necessary for the good of our family. I'm thankful for my mom and dad and sisters and grandparents and all of Brandon's as well. Thankful for friends, new and old, for the house we call home, for our parish and the thriving community we've found there. Thankful for the gifts and talents I have and for the opportunities to grow.
For just the next few days, let's abandon decking the halls and focus on the holiday-at-hand. Let's show gratitude for the gift of family and friends; for the hardships we've overcome and the ways we've grown; for the blessings of health and home; for the grace received. Let's be thankful without getting knee-deep into the next holiday's celebration. Let's be thankful.