Of all the traditional prescribed holidays, Thanksgiving is by far my favorite, no doubt because I adore mashed potatoes. Well, that isn’t the only reason why it is my fave. I love Thanksgiving because I like the spirit of gratitude behind the holiday, the gathering of friends and family together and yes, the food. Thanksgiving itself is a time to be thankful for what we have. The day after is when we start to want again. But for 1/365th of the year, we gather around and celebrate what we’ve got.
I’ve spent Thanksgivings in Seattle, Portland, Denver, Durango, Utah and Paris, all which were delightful and full of good memories. My favorite gatherings are the ones that are informal, where slippers are encouraged if not required and everyone cooks something special to them. Second to these larger gatherings, I cherish the times I’ve spent camping in the van, prepping instant stuffing and enjoying what I call Vanksgiving. Vanksgiving 2014 began on the Friday following T-day and lasted a blissful 3 days in a canyon in southwestern Utah. Our traditional Vanksgiving dinner consisted of instant stuffing, sauteed brussels sprouts and leftover turkey all doused in homemade gravy and cranberry sauce. It was peaceful, it was loving and it was full of gratitude.
Now that we are in the throes of the holiday season, it is my time to step back and reflect on what the holidays really mean. As a minimalist, I am not fond of all the consumerism that now clouds over Christmas/ Hanukkah / Kwanza. There are so many implications to this rampant spending that I don’t need to go into here. Suffice to say that all of the buying and wanting really turn me off. There are (already as we’re merely days into the season) all of these advice pieces about how to beat holiday stress and how to enjoy the holidays once again on simpler terms. The holidays are supposed to be a time of enjoyment, remembrance and relaxation. They have become something so foreign to me that I have stepped off of this rapid path and taken the holidays back for myself.
I know that this piece may sound curmudgeonly, which is not my intent. I enjoy the holidays in my own ways. I have my family heirloom ceramic lighted tree and I cherish seeing it aglow. I love to give gifts, but I do not let the giving stress me out because that is absolutely contrary to the whole spirit of a gift. I like to give items that will be useful and that I have made myself. I’d rather have friends over for wine and appetizers (in their slippers, of course) than attend some fancy party. I’m more about quality than quantity and the holidays have turned into one big distasteful binge.
I am happy that I am still able to celebrate the holidays in a quiet and meaningful way. I am grateful for the experiences shared with loved ones rather than what I get. I am at a point in my life where I have everything that I could possibly need, and more. The best gifts in life are in time, peace and good food.