Tag Archives: family gathering

Holiday Memories: A Cherished Thanksgiving Memory

As you get older, you come to treasure certain memories more than most. It’s a natural thing. If you’ve conducted yourself a certain way, it can be a beautiful thing. It’s not always a pleasant process, especially as you encounter major life challenges and inevitable hardships. That doesn’t make it any less meaningful.

The holidays are a time during which we form many such memories. I certainly have. Some of my most cherished memories occurred over the holidays. Some were on Christmas and some were on Thanksgiving. This year, with so many friends and family still isolated due to the pandemic, I find myself contemplating those memories more than usual.

I doubt I’m alone. There’s just no getting around it. For Thanksgiving, especially, we just can’t do things the way we normally do in 2020. That’s just the reality of a deadly pandemic. We can’t travel, get together, or casually share used forks. It’s sad and frustrating, but that’s just the way things have to be for this year.

For me and my family, that’s especially difficult. That’s because every year, my parents make it a point to make their house, the same one I grew up in, the epicenter of all things Thanksgiving. Every year, family from all over traveled to our part of the country to get together, have a giant meal, and just enjoy each other’s company.

These gatherings were often the biggest family gatherings of the year. It wasn’t unusual for there to be at least 20 people crammed into that house. It was big and rowdy, but we all loved it. I certainly did. We had so much fun, sharing in the joys of food, family, and football. I’m really going to miss that this year.

Rather than dwell on that, though, I’d like to share a quick personal story that I hope will get others through this pandemic-hit holiday. It just happens to be one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories of all time and one that perfectly defines what makes my family so awesome.

This particular memory unfolded when I was fairly young. I was still in elementary school at the time and much of my extended family wasn’t that much older. Once again, my parents made their house the central focus of Thanksgiving festivities and we attracted quite a crowd. I remember aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends joining in, some of which I hadn’t seen in years.

In addition to the usual gathering and feasting, the weather this year was just perfect. It was unusually warm for late November. A number of cousins and friends wore shorts and a T-shirt. It was just that nice out. As a result, we hung around outside a lot more than usual. It’s here where this Thanksgiving memory really takes hold.

Shortly after we ate, a bunch of cousins and extended family gathered in the backyard and started throwing around a football, as many are inclined to do on Thanksgiving. It started as a simple game of catch between a few cousins. It then evolved into a full-fledged game, complete with route running, elaborate plays, and touchdown dances.

We didn’t plan it.

We didn’t keep score.

We didn’t even set clear rules and time limits.

We all just came together as friends and family to play a football game in the backyard. It felt so natural and organic. It was a perfect manifestation of everything we loved about Thanksgiving get-togethers.

If that weren’t memorable enough, some clouds rolled in near sunset and it started raining suddenly. However, not one person in the backyard ran inside. If anything, it just made everyone more excited to play. The game kept going. We kept running around, tackling each other, and just had an all-around great time.

Being a kid with a belly full of Thanksgiving dinner, I honestly didn’t want it to end. I wanted to just hang out back there and play football until the sun went down. Even as some friends and family had to leave, we kept going for as long as we could. When it finally ended, I knew on some levels that this had been a special Thanksgiving.

Time has only proven that sentiment right. To date, it’s one of my most cherished Thanksgiving memories. I’ll likely cherish it even more as I endure a Thanksgiving without that big family gathering I’ve come to love and appreciate. I know many in my family feel the same way.

Thanksgiving this year may be disappointing in its scope, but I would encourage them and everyone who shares that feeling to think back to those memories. More importantly, use them as inspiration, as well as motivation, to make Thanksgiving in 2021 even more special.

I hope this little story has boosted your holiday spirits. I also hope everyone finds a way to enjoy Thanksgiving this year, however tempered it might be. The holidays are here. Let’s not allow a pandemic to dampen our spirits.

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Imagining My Idea Of A Perfect Christmas

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I’d like to do something different today and not just because it’s Christmas Eve. First off, I hope everyone reading this has some festive plans for today and tomorrow. To everyone out there who has been following my work and this website, I sincerely thank you and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas holiday. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

What constitutes a successful Christmas holiday means many things for many people. For some, it means getting together with family, opening presents, and sharing a quiet holiday dinner full of love, cheer, and ugly Christmas sweaters. For some, there are more elaborate traditions, from going to the movies to attending a big party that winds up with some feeling less merry the next day. For some, it’s just another day off work.

Whatever way you or your family celebrate, we all have a different vision for what makes for a perfect Christmas. More often than not, this vision changes considerably as we get older. As kids, a perfect Christmas usually means getting all the toys we asked for. As adults, it’s more about the experience than the gifts. The key is maximizing both.

My idea of a perfect Christmas certainly has changed. When I was in high school, just having a week off made it perfect. When I was in college, being able to spend a few nights in my old room without hearing my roommate snore like a broken chainsaw was good enough. These days, I’ve dared to envision a more ambitious Christmas.

Talk to any of my relatives and they’ll attest to that ambition. I tend to go overboard with the gift-giving. I often buy more than one gift for someone and I go out of my way to make it extra special. I’ve been known to drop a lot more money than most on Christmas presents. It’s almost a running joke among my family. They’ll say I’m thrifty for 11 months out of the year, just so I can splurge on the last.

I take pride in my ability to invest in making Christmas special for those I love and cherish. I’m not married yet, but if I ever do find that special someone, I’ll make it a point to invest even more. Every year, however, I often find myself wondering how great it could be if I had more money and more resources at my disposal.

With that in mind, I’d like to present my vision for the perfect Christmas celebration for me, my family, and those I care about. In this vision, I have an unlimited bank account. Perhaps one of my novels became a best seller or I won the lottery. Whatever the case, money is no object and I can create as festive a spectacle as I please. Given such resources, this is how my perfect Christmas would play out.

On November 1st, I send everyone close to me a request for a list of their most desired presents. Each item can cost no more than $1,000 and must be something that can be wrapped. I tell them they must provide me this list by Thanksgiving or December 1st, at the latest.

With this information, I proceed to buy every gift on this list and even a few extras from me, just to mix things up. Then, I have every one of these gifts professionally gift-wrapped and stored until Christmas Eve.

Then, a week before Christmas Eve, I reserve an entire floor of a fancy hotel. Each room has a fully-lit Christmas tree and whatever comforts my friends and family desire. Along with those rooms, I rent a penthouse suite and have it decorated to the greatest extent possible, complete with lights along every well and a Christmas tree no shorter than nine feet in height.

In addition to the decorations, the penthouse would have a large fireplace and big-screen TVs with everything necessary to watch whatever sports or Christmas specials are on. Everything would be set up with the intent of everyone arriving early on Christmas Eve.

By then, all the presents I had bought and wrapped earlier would be delivered and put under the tree. As soon as friends and family start arriving, I have a team of professional cooks prepare a special lunch buffet. Then, we spend the afternoon together, catching up and enjoying whatever festivities we desire. We cap it all off with a traditional Christmas feast that includes turkey, ham, and cake.

Then, at nine o’clock we all gather around the tree, pick one present, and open it together. After sharing in that moment and enjoying a few late deserts, we all retire to our bedrooms and go to sleep.

The next morning, we sleep in and gather around the tree again to open up the rest of our presents. When all is said and done, we gather around a big dining room table for a Christmas breakfast. From there, we spend the rest of the day enjoying our new presents, watching Christmas specials, and playing games.

It all ends with one last holiday feast, consisting of pasta and meatballs, just like my grandmother used to make. After enjoying this meal, we gather around the tree one last time for desert and just enjoy each other’s company for the rest of the night.

That may seem needlessly elaborate for some, even if they had unlimited money to work with. For me, the key is creating an extra-special experience to share with the people I love. Whether that includes the cost of renting an entire hotel floor or just a few extra bucks on Christmas presents, I believe that investing in that experience helps make the holidays more special.

I may never get rich enough to make this happen. By this time next year, my idea of the perfect Christmas might change considerably, depending on where life takes me. For now, though, this is my little holiday fantasy and I’m happy to share it with those who have helped make this website as successful as it is.

If you have your own idea of a perfect Christmas, please share it in the comments. Once again, I wish everyone reading this a safe and happy holidays.

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