All around I see the generous outpouring of thankful reminders and wishes. How worthwhile to have a holiday with this focus in mind!
Many days I ponder what my children will remember of the holiday traditions we try to create. I question others on what they recall from childhood…what was special, meaningful, magical. While trying to strategize how to bring a reverence and appreciation and purpose to the holidays, I can’t help but see that the day itself is not what it is solely about. Like a rhythm to their days, our children attach themselves to what we see and do, absorbing surroundings and nuances with a precision they are unconscious of. Our body language, our moods, our excitement, our recollections…these are their foundations, their own guide to how to operate in the world, their own guide to “normal” until they work out a path unique to them, their own guide to what is worthy of their attention and excitement on the holidays.
I’m learning. Watching the heart-palpitating excitement play out before THE big feast gave me pause. Listening to wriggles and giggles of glee on the way to THE big dinner made me smile. I smiled knowing that neither child was likely to spend longer than five minutes at the table for dinner before they’d be off and running: driving cars across carpets, running the hall or peacefully absorbing themselves in emptying the contents of the salt and pepper shakers under the radar.
It’s likely not about the actual moment of dinner for them. It’s something more pervasive and ubiquitous. It seems instead to be about the rising swell of anticipation built over weeks, the synergy as those around them begin to speak of their own excitement and preparations, the library books filling in a little more detail as to what this is all about, the community reference that something bigger than themselves is happening: mom insists on special clothes, combed hair, and the knowledge that their friends are doing the same thing right now too. And it’s about stories…about them, about past holidays, about “that one time” on a Thanksgiving years ago, about thrills and mishaps and fond recollections…we tell our stories. To little ears, it is captivating.
While busy preparing the green beans, two little boys took a moment together to practice telling their own story. You could almost touch the buzz in energy from the balancing act they were performing. Wordlessly, haltingly, they communicate who will hold the book, how close it is permissible to get: touching and pointing is okay but wiggling and moving the book is not. Turning the page causes nearly frantic hysteria as the book must be closed in order to turn the page simply because a three-year-old’s hands aren’t big enough to do otherwise. Slowly the Littlest realizes the book is not being taken away, just a page turned, and he is captivated by stories of diggers and dumpers. This is the beginning. Patiently they fill the pregnant space created while waiting with anticipation for the Thanksgiving dinner, practicing their stories.
Stories are at the heart of us. Magic and memories are kept alive by our narratives with our own wonder and detail. Stories connect us to the past. They connect us to each other. They give us points of reference, encouragement or guidance, reassurance or conundrums.
As we begin the swing into the holiday season, the stories are rich and varied. Not just our own but the many holiday stories. I have many aspirations for future tales, but for now I’ll remember the story of this year. Of this Thanksgiving.
This Thanksgiving is the year I parked in my garage for the first time on Thanksgiving Day and had the sweet satisfaction of unloading sleepy boys right into the house while listening to the patter of rain outside (thank you Dad and Mom!). This is the year we had a peaceful and beautiful potluck Thanksgiving. This is the year Little Boy keeps asking me if Daddy is coming home when we put the Christmas Tree up tomorrow and my heart skips a beat hoping that the answer “not yet, we’re getting ready for him!” won’t crush him (almost…three more weeks!). The year I learned how to make a rue for a green bean casserole. The year my heart overflows with gratefulness for the support and love of my family. This is the year Little Boy will remember Thanksgiving. This is the year my brother came with his family (wonderful Lisa) and added the best dynamic.
But, this is not the year I made mashed potatoes so stretchy they’d have been put to better use rolling them into balls to see if they would bounce. This is not the year I forgot to turn the oven on somehow and dinner was delayed until after 9 pm and I was mortified but our friends were so generous and understanding that I didn’t feel like crawling under a rock and we had a great time. This was not the year I ate cold turkey because I was caring for a sweet baby.
Those too are my stories though. And my boys do love to hear a good story. It seems to keep the charm and wonder alive. 😉
Happy Turkey Day all! Hope you added to your story collection this year!