When I was growing up all over the state of California, the three things we knew for sure in life were that (1) prepackaged tortillas are not worth buying, (2) something is always either shaking, burning, or surfing a glop of mud down a hill, and (3) we would join 45+ family members at my Grandma's every year for Thanksgiving.
Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, most especially the Christmas season. It smells so good! It's beautiful! And the sweaters and pants hide my jiggles much better than skimpy summer attire. Christmas makes me feel good.
But Thanksgiving? That's about tradition and family. And the lack of presents to figure out and give, the four day weekend, and the official kick off to the holiday season make it the most beloved holiday of the year for me.
But Thanksgiving is not the same for my military brats.
First, in my eldest child's fourteen years on the planet, we have only managed to spend six Thanksgivings with my family. We're usually just too far away to try and stuff our screaming horde of children into an aircraft and torment passengers for hours cross-country.
Those Norman Rockwell pictures of a smiling grey-haired grandmother serving a beautiful turkey to a table full of wholesome children? Well, my grandmother - at 90 years old and a true Californian - keeps her hair a very delightful blond. So even if we were home, that's not the picture that would await us on the last Thursday of the month. Aside from that, we usually celebrate Thanksgiving on our own or with some good friends. When I do make turkey, it's up to everyone to go get some themselves. Our table is barely big enough to seat all of us, much less be able to hold a feast, too.
But we do have our traditions. We spend Thanksgiving Day pimping our house for Christmas. Every year the decorations change, because my children spend Thanksgiving making them. We put up our fake tree and decide on a theme. We hang stockings and tinsel and cut out snowflakes. We bake cookies and eat so much sugar that it has also become a Thanksgiving tradition for me to spend the evening puking in the bathroom and soaking in a hot bath doing shots of Maalox.
Our house enters the holiday season looking like we've been visited by colorblind elves finishing up a bender and trying to figure out how to get Santa's sleigh back home without the dents and strange stains and odors being noticed by the Fat Man in Red.
It must be worth it. Today my eight year old daughter #2 ran pell mell around the house clapping and singing that she LOVED Thanksgiving Day. She told me that she couldn't wait because it was her favorite day of the year.
Next to her birthday, that is.