Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and holiday hams fill the tables in many households come around this time of the year. Along with all the fancy dressings, come the holiday decorations and festive parties filled with friends and family from all over paying visits to their loved ones. This year for me and my immediate family, it is just a simple dinner with no one else but us. Nothing fancy beyond just having, family.
It’s quite a nice change from most Thanksgivings, when we usually have a typical “Filipino” gathering having every possible person invited to the house, from every uncle and aunt, cousin, cousin of a cousin, distant long lost relative, and in some cases “long lost siblings”. With all jokes aside, it usually can get pretty stressful from all the cleaning, prepping, cooking, decorating and arranging to the point that when the party starts, you can’t really enjoy yourself, because you’re already drained and only a call away from wanting to fall right to bed.
It doesn’t help either when the tryptophan starts kicking in. When the guests pile in and arrive, you are also bound to have your energy drained from the countless festive activities throughout the night outside of the follow up cleaning you’re bound to have the long prayers, to the speeches followed by the wine, to everyone going around the room sharing their thoughts from the past year, to the football/basketball games, and to the grand finale of karaoke time. Thanksgiving just simply can be just as draining as it is fulfilling.
Although from a different perspective, they say the most intimate form of interaction you can have with any human being is sitting across a table “breaking bread”, and I could not agree more, especially when in this day in age, most family meals also include on the menu a heavy serving of phone calls, text messages and if you’re Filipino, Facebook! Yet that’s what makes this year a bit different, because there is no one else here but us and we are simply “unplugged”.
With that said, this year my Mom put her “commander-in-chief hat” calling martial law with absolutely no phones at the table for Thanksgiving. The verdict? A result of a very different evening from the norm. We actually had, I dare say “meaningful conversation”. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when you are in the average nuclear family in America. You get home from work, and you take it home with you, which made for a nice shift from reality. It’s quite sad actually that many times this is not just a normal thing anymore, being “present in the moment”. For but the present moment, this is a gentle reminder of what Thanksgiving is all about. After all isn’t that what the original pioneers to America did when they “broke bread” with the Native Americans?
My how far we have come as a society. With that in mind, today I am thankful for family, and even more the time we make for family. We really put our value in time to what we feel most strong got about. It’s just a shame that many Americans only take this time around the year to make time for what really matters, not just for Thanksgiving but what really matters in life, family.