I’ve now shared 16 Thanksgiving weekends with Americans. My first one was with my adopted Colorado family where I had some scrumptious servings of all things turkey, mashed, baked and included a home brew by my late adopted grandpa Weathersby. After a few brisk Turkey Bowls, Trots and Dinners in Colorful Colorado, I spent the last 12 of these Thursdays often stuffing down stuffing on a patio in Arizona. I’ve watched some parades, had the worst head-colds of my life, and even sliced a finger to the bone opening a can of something I had to prepare the night before. All happening on Thanksgiving. My history with this glorious four-day weekend has been eventful and delightful.
It’s easily my favorite holiday of the year, and you Americans do it right.
Don’t get me wrong, I grew up with Thanksgiving in Canada as well. I know, it’s shocking to many that this hallowed day is in fact shared by cultures around the globe and (gasp) celebrated on different weekends. But I love the way it’s celebrated here: four days off; the first being the day you celebrate and the other three days a kickstart to Christmas! It’s awesome. My only gripe being that it should be a week or two earlier cuz let’s stretch out the Christmas music and that season a little more. (I miss that, Canada…)
I love that it’s such a fun weekend for our boys. They help out with some of the preparation (mostly licking spoons and beaters), eat as much pie as can fit, and wake up the next day to the start of a kids favorite season ever. This year we continued the tradition of climbing up into the forest with extended family in tow and pulling out another great Christmas tree. We blasted “Chipmunk Christmas” and Nat King Cole all the way up. A fire was lit, hot dogs and marshmallows roasted and hot cider passed around while we strapped trees “Griswold Style” on top of cars. The boys ran around clutching sticks, chasing each other and their cousins up and down giant logs, throwing snowballs, and even swung the axe (at trees, not eachother) By the time we pulled out and started meandering our tree-topped wagon home, the sun was on its way down while both boys nodded off in the back seat, lulled by Bing, dreaming of white.
Seriously, a perfect day.
I like to think of these simple things as being what makes the life we’ve chosen a good, slow life. Some have mentioned that it must be easy to live slower in the middle of the forest. Or that it must be nice to travel, have flexible schedules, not worry about a commute. Yeah, you’re right: we did choose that. But even before all this happened, we’ve been pretty purposeful in the simple way we raise our family. The annual Tree Hunt began while we both worked full time and had the boys in day care. We’ve homecooked Thanksgiving and a thousand other meals so that we could work at something together and share it around the table. And it’s always taken some sacrifice here or there: laughing at a burning oven, crying after a holiday meal. I’ve missed a TV sale on some Black Friday, felt out of the loop with the newest music, and have awkward conversations with guys ever since I stopped watching football (another great Thanksgiving tradition) But it’s what fills the space that opens up when you skip the lines, unplug and do something that keeps you grounded.
For us, it’s what keeps things simple and slow.
So, we’re right at the starting line of arguably the busiest time of the year. It should be this magical and happy time too. This week I’m going to throw out some ideas. All of them are doable, no matter how full you think your life is. And, I promise that all of these ideas are going to slow you down, if only for a few minutes. Put them into a more consistent practice and I believe that you’ll find yourself finding some good space for yourself. No, don’t worry: you won’t be on some track to ending up like a bunch of hippies living in the middle of the woods somewhere chasing your kids around in your tightie-whities (just kidding, you might…) but it could have a profound effect on how you view your day, your week, and maybe even put a good dent in your life as a whole.
Who knows? The slow, good life has a way of changing things, maybe it can start right now. I mean, three days ago most of us looked around a table full of food and family and said how awesome life is. Now you’re staring at Monday and getting ready to launch into four weeks of shopping, school events, church concerts, and staff parties: it’s a good time to take a breath, maybe look at how you can ease up on the pace a bit.
Let me know how it goes, good or bad. You’ve joined me this far and now I’m challenging you to go from “Oh look at those crazy kids, living in the forest: let’s read about them” to actually getting your hands a little dirty. You might find some space and who knows? Maybe next year you’ll even hunt your own tree…