Bing Crosby tells us in that famous long-ago song that, no matter how far away we roam, home is the best place to be for the holidays.
Home. The holidays.
Though Bing Crosby never says for sure, everyone figures – and they would be right, for it’s a song intended for that time of year, as we hear it being played now as the favorites from that season were recently unleased on the radio – that it’s a Christmas tune. But I argue that it could also be a Thanksgiving song.
There’s no bigger fan of Thanksgiving than my friend, Mike. He has maintained for years that Thanksgiving is the most underrated of all the holidays. A very religious man, he doesn’t care much at all for the extreme over-commercialization of Christmas, while I get all caught up in it, and because of that, I thought he was just tweaking me when he sang the praises of Thanksgiving. He’s been known to do that – to needle me and many others, just about everybody he has ever met – simply because he can, and so that is why I thought he was championing Thanksgiving all those times, especially that one occasion about 15 years ago when we were in New Orleans for business the weekend before that holiday and he talked about it non-stop as we walked throughout the city.
But now, although I hesitate to tell him for fear of inflating his ego, I think he’s right. I think he’s been right all along. In fact, I am sure of it.
Thanksgiving, that holiday that’s staring us in the face in that it is now less than a week away, believe it or not, really is the most underrated of all the holidays. As I’ve gotten older and more aware of everything around me, I’ve found what Mike already knew, that even though Thanksgiving has always been generally perceived as no more than an opening act for Christmas, there is so much more to it than that.
Indeed, Thanksgiving deserves its own platform – its own stage, its own attention, its own stature, its own legacy.
Thanksgiving really is the "home" holiday above all others. There are no presents, no trees, no Santa Claus, no seemingly never-ending string of commercials and no songs – or at least very, very, very few of them, unless you want to steal Bing’s tune when no one’s looking or simply because there are so many Christmas favorites that no one would miss one. Instead, the whole holiday is built around coming together for a meal and giving thanks for all of our blessings.
That’s it. Nothing more.
But that’s a lot. It is oh, so much.
The modern American family eats its evening meal in shifts. With crazy schedules to accommodate work and school, homework, church, meetings, yoga, and practices for sports, plays, choir, band and everything else under the sun, the kitchen in any home has become much more of a cafeteria than a place to sit down together and have dinner. We grab a plate, keep moving down the line past the cupboards, refrigerator and stove as we gather the food choices we like and ignore the ones we choose to do without, sit down stuff down our dinner in rapid-fire fashion because we have to, and then hurry out the door, most times devouring the last morsel as we go. And we must remember to turn off the TV before we leave, for if there’s one in the kitchen we’ve turned it on before we’ve even started to pick out our menu. We like a little entertainment – or, more probably, mindless noise – with our meals in 2018.
No, this meal is entirely different. It is unique among every other meal of the year. We gather at the table at the appropriate time, we give thanks for our blessings, most of which we tend to ignore or forget about until we stop and think about things, and we eat a meal together – slowly, joyously and lovingly, with conversation, laughter and all kinds of catching-up with people we deeply care for but don’t see much up anymore.
Instead of five or 10 minutes, this meal may take an hour or even an hour and a half as we savor each bite, and word, because it is so good. It fuels the stomach, and the soul, and we need fill-ups in both regards.
And those pesky, annoying devices that are attached to our arms?
We silence them and put them away. Whatever it is, can wait, for everyone who means anything to us is right here, sitting around that table, over there next to the turkey, between the dressing, mashed potatoes and rolls, and just a arm’s length from the pumpkin pie.
We are at home, and for the time that we are, nothing else really matters.
For, as Bing says, if we want to be happy in a million ways, for the holidays, we can’t beat home, sweet home.
He, and Mike, are right.
To you and yours, have a most blessed, joyous and wonderful Thanksgiving.