Re­mem­ber­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of Thanks­giv­ing

The Covington News - - SUNDAY LIVING -

I picked up the Tar­get sales flyer last night, in search of turkey-themed pa­per plates and nap­kins for our Thanks­giv­ing din­ner. I thumbed through page af­ter page of Christ­mas dé­cor, high-priced elec­tronic gifts and dozens of toys. Of course, they didn’t ac­tu­ally use the word “Christ­mas,” but ev­ery­thing you could ever want to com­mer­cial­ize your Dec. 25 “hol­i­day” was fea­tured on those glossy red and green pages.

I fi­nally found my turkey table­ware — one tiny photo the size of a quar­ter, hid­den near the bot­tom of page 37. And that is when I re­al­ized how much our so­ci­ety has cast Thanks­giv­ing as the poor, over­looked mid­dle child of the hol­i­day sea­son.

It’s not that peo­ple don’t cel­e­brate it. I’ve never met any­one who has any­thing bad to say about Thanks­giv­ing it­self. I do know a few folks who com­plain about cer­tain rel­a­tives they only see at this time of year, but for the most part, it’s a re­ally en­joy­able day.

We Amer­i­cans love food and foot­ball, and Thurs­day is a good ex­cuse to in­dulge in both. I love bak­ing and cook­ing days in ad­vance, paus­ing to en­joy the Macy’s pa­rade with my fam­ily, gath­er­ing my loved ones around the ta­ble, catch­ing up with the women while the men watch foot­ball.

But it’s the sig­nif­i­cance of Thanks­giv­ing that I feel gets lost, stuck there be­tween the fes­tiv­i­ties of Hal­loween and the fan­fare of Christ­mas. Re­tail­ers can’t quite com­mer­cial­ize some­thing that is sup­posed to be an at­ti­tude of the heart. And turkeys just aren’t as cute as Jack-o’-lanterns and rein­deer, any­way.

I can re­late to the turkey, grow­ing up as the shy mid­dle child in a fam­ily with three daugh­ters. My older sis­ter Nin­nah was the pretty one, and my younger sis­ter, Cherie, was the charm­ing one. Both of them were — and still are — tal­ented dancers. Nin­nah was on the drill team in high school, and Cherie was an adorable blonde cheer­leader.

And then there was me: Kari, Plain and Fat.

Even though my sis­ters and I have al­ways been close, I never felt that I mea­sured up to them. It wasn’t that any­one made me feel that way. I just fell short in my own com­par­isons to them. They were gre­gar­i­ous while I was quiet. They were al­ways on­stage. I was hap­pi­est with my nose tucked into a book.

It took years for me to be able to ap­pre­ci­ate my­self for who I am, to ap­pre­ci­ate the gifts within me that are nei­ther showy nor loud. And it also took as long to re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the quiet­ness of Thanks­giv­ing, to un­der­stand peo­ple like my friend Doris, who pro­claim it as their fa­vorite hol­i­day.

Doris and her hus­band, Paul, make the an­nual trek from Cony­ers to their home­town of Crossett, Ark., to cel­e­brate Thanks­giv­ing with their ex­tended fam­i­lies. The hol­i­day means so much to her that Doris re­cently cre­ated a scrap­book to com­mem­o­rate a life­time of th­ese cel­e­bra­tions.

“We usu­ally have any­where from 30 to 50 peo­ple at Mom’s dur­ing the day,” said Doris. “I get lots of hugs and kisses from fam­ily. There are so many dishes of food that we find it hard to get ev­ery­thing out to be served. So there are lots of choices to load your plate with and we graze all day. But the day means even more. It brings me back to what I’ve taken for granted so many years while liv­ing in Crossett — my fam­ily.”

I look at the for­est out­side my kitchen win­dow and the leaves pos­i­tively glow as the late af­ter­noon sun il­lu­mi­nates their peak of au­tumn color. The yard is a sea of golden con­fetti just wait­ing to be raked into piles for my sons to dive into. And I don’t want to rush fall, to wish it away by fo­cus­ing too soon on Christ­mas, by putting up bright dec­o­ra­tions that dis­tract us from the ones that God made him­self.

And that’s what I feel Thanks­giv­ing is for, a quiet pause be­fore the hol­i­day mad­ness kicks in, a time to sit back and en­joy the bounty of all we’ve been given.

I’m thank­ful for this day of peace, its sim­ple plea­sures, and the time to count my bless­ings.

Kari Apted

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