My favorite holiday has always been Thanksgiving, notwithstanding the fact that Christmas is full of gifts. Happily, the gifts are just a nice addition to that most beautiful and festive of our holidays. While it is possible I anticipated the gifts more than anything else when I was a child, that is not my favorite holiday memory.
The gathering of family has always been the highlight of my holidays. And gathering with my sister and her family, now quite expanded, has always been the centerpiece. It has remained true for decades, this year as much as ever. My nephew's home was the setting for turkey this year and it will live in my memory through a photo of his 3 year old playing the harmonica I gave him as a belated birthday gift. It also reenergizes my belief in harmonicas being the best gift for young children.
Andrew was at first leery of the gift but was transformed by his first puff into the small holes and squealed with delight after each melodic sound until he became a pro. When we captured his joy on camera, he was marching in place on a coffee table while entertaining the family. A simple pleasure.
captured his joy on
camera, he was marching
in place on a coffee table while
entertaining the family.
A simple pleasure.
This year, family meant his parents, 5 year old sister, both sets of grandparents, a young aunt and uncle, a great aunt (me), and uncle Terry, whom Andrew is always thrilled to see. Terry returns the feeling! There were just 12 of us around this dining room table, one that had been his grandfather's and his grandfather's before him. The table was aglow with candles and decorated with homemade cookies in the shape of people, a family tradition.
We were all happy to be together. There were some dear to us who were once around this holiday table who were not present this year. My parents are gone and a young uncle succumbed to cancer a few years ago. There is always that awareness that some loved ones won't be back, tinged with sadness. Other relatives have their own groups to enjoy now, while some go to another family this year and return to us the next. We are grateful for all those who gathered around the table and shared conversation and laughs with old remembrances.
Thanksgiving has simple pleasures. Being together, sharing turkey, pumpkin pie. Feeding logs into a fireplace, taking photos, remembering traditions. No one discussed politics and everyone was in agreement that this was where they wanted to be and were thankful for that.
What makes this group of people have a heartwarming day rather than a contentious one, as some report? Mutual respect... gratitude to have family to love... appreciation for all we have without any thought of material things.
As we come to this next holiday with its religious traditions from so many faiths, we need to keep the deeper meanings of the day front and center. And keep in mind the greatest gifts around any tree - being together with those we love.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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