Take the time to savor this holiday season
PRIME December 2012
By Debbie Gardner
We sent this issue of PRIME to the printer the day before Thanksgiving, and though I've spent much of the last month immersed in holiday-related materials to prepare the annual Holiday Happenings list, my mind was very much on the holiday before us.
Thanksgiving is my son Evan's favorite holiday, not for the food and feasting that gets so much attention in the media, but for the opportunity to gather the family together.
You see, on Thanksgiving, there's no required church service to frame the day, no exchange of candy – or piles of gifts – to distract from the gathering.
There's just family, around a table, with an opportunity to sit, and talk, and linger over coffee and pie.
I guess I didn't fully comprehend how rare and special the gift of a day with nowhere to go, and nothing to do but visit, truly was to him until the two of us talked about our favorite holidays not long ago.
Like most kids today, Evan is busy. His school work leaves him with at least an hour – usually more – of homework each evening, and sometimes projects that last an entire weekend. He's also a athlete, in his case participating in a sport requiring a commitment of 12 hours of practice per week, broken up into four three-hour sessions.
It's a 20-minute drive each way to practice, making each session closer to four hours.
Doing his homework and studying in the car are now an integral part of his life.
Needless to say, there's little time to sit and reflect for him – or his parental chauffeurs – in the course of any given week.
Little time to call a cousin and chat, or even visit an aunt who lives one street from his school.
I've heard him say many times that he wishes we weren't so rushed, that we had more time for things.
That's why he loves Thanksgiving.
A few years ago, we took over hosting the annual meal, and to accommodate the family com-mitments of now-married nephews, I – like my very wise paternal grandmother – host my meal beginning at 5 p.m.
With the other family feasts long over, I almost always have a full complement of relatives around my table, ready for a second helping of turkey and stuffing.
Our holiday feast schedule also means we have an entire day to get ready – no need to rise early to put a turkey in the oven, plenty of time to peel the potatoes and carrots, and on nice than Thanksgiving days there's even time to shoot some baskets in the backyard, or take a walk around the neighborhood.
When our company does arrive, we're also assured they have nowhere else that they need to be.
We're the last stop of the day.
Though I often have too many leftovers, we're never short on conversation around my Thanksgiving table, and it seems no one is ever in a rush to do the dishes.
We sit, we talk, we listen, we share. Evan is in his glory, as his older cousins take him on in the latest video game or basketball under the lights, and his aunts want to hear all about his latest sports achievement, or the grades on his first semester report card.
About half-way through the evening, somebody usually spots my guitar, and there's an impromptu jam session.
I'm lucky if the first person leaves by 10 p.m.
We never rush the Thanksgiving holiday, or the season that follows it.
No Black Friday early risings for us. There's no deal that's more important than a well-deserved break from the everyday rush that a four-day weekend offers.
We also try to break the daily time crunch and savor the days in December – as well as the activities we attend – as much as possible.
The holiday season only comes once a year, it's a shame not to take the time to enjoy it.
I'm looking forward to Evan's school's Christmas concert – always a highlight of the season for me.
I'm also looking forward to my family's Christmas Day dinner – at 5 p.m., when everybody has nowhere else they need to be.