According to Facebook, almost everyone I know is flying somewhere this weekend. Statuses are filled with names of States and airports: "Rhode Island," "O'Hare," "packing is confusing." The last I heartily agree with. Whenever I pack for a trip, I end up cleaning out my desk or reading a book I've been meaning to read for a while. I am thankful this Thanksgiving not to be flying anywhere (I used to think I liked flying, but I really don't, esp. not with hoards of other people). Instead we will take a short drive over to the state of Iowa. My favorite part of the drive is through the hilly rural farmland of Wisconsin, so beautiful and so varied, with even an occasional llama farm. Then we cross to Iowa and it's all corn. Dubuque is interesting because it's on a river, but the rest not so much, no offense. My friend Brittaini would disagree saying that "this is one of the most serene and austere landscapes..."
At our waffle night last night, our friends, one friend in particular, was dismayed to see our new Christmas tree already decorated. He said, "Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. How can you celebrate it right if you already have your tree up?" We answered by saying that we were going to be traveling a lot and wanted to get full enjoyment out of it. Otherwise, I share in his sentiments. Thanksgiving is the bigger holiday in my family because my grandparents are Jewish-- they're not as interested in the birth of Jesus. Every Thanksgiving we are together. Grandpa carves the turkey. Grandma makes the orange jello mold and sweet potato yumminess and Mom makes the pies that always come out perfectly (that reminds me, I have to make a pie today!). Setting up the Christmas tree is also a Thanksgiving tradition. My dad wrote to me saying, "why don't we wait until you're home in December to do it?"
Part of getting married is starting new traditions or incorporating the old into the new. We've got our tree up now because if we put it up after Thanksgiving, we would only get to look at it for two weeks before leaving town for Christmas. However, when we put it up, we still listened to the same Christmas cd my family listens to and drank eggnog. Those are the requirements for tree trimming. Another part of this first stage of marriage is being able to do whatever you want. There's only two people. No kid, sibling, friend, or relative is going to argue with you if/when you decide to go out and buy all the Christmas stuff you can think of and then outfit your apartment in a matter of hours. You can make your own rules. This is nice. "Do you want a wreath?" "Yeah! Let's get a wreath!" "Let's get it all!" "How about this star? Isn't it the prettiest star you've ever seen?" Later, we found out that the base of our star was actually made of lead and the back of the box said we should wash our hands after handling it...? "I like this stocking for you." "Awwww really, you do? I like it too." I think we spent more money on the Christmas decorations than we've spent on clothes and shoes for the past six months, but if you know us well, that's not saying too much.
One Thanksgiving tradition that my family observes on and off, also on people's birthdays, is to go around the table and say what you're thankful for. This year I've got a big list. Every time I listen to Marketplace on NPR, I feel like the world is falling apart and there's nothing I can do about it, but then I come back to reality and am overwhelmed by the blessings. I won't name them all because I don't want to sound like "oh, look at my wonderful life." But I will name one-- friendships. When we moved here, we knew one person through my aunt. And last night we had seven or so people over who have become our good friends over a period of months. Everyone brought something to eat and we feasted on bacon and eggs and apple juice and pumpkin waffles and tater tots and even a giant box of Godiva chocolates. It felt like a Thanksgiving dinner to me. Everyone shared out of what they had, their food, but also themselves.