When my husband and I married, almost 23 years ago, our first two holidays were probably fairly typical of newly-marrieds. We rushed about from one place to another, wanting to please everyone while attempting to make traditions of our own. Once we began having children, the holidays continued to evolve in ways that put a great many demands on the scant 24 hour period in which they took place.
Just before our third year of holidays rolled around, my mother made an announcement that forever changed the landscape of the holidays. “From now on,” she proclaimed, “I will have Thanksgiving on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.” I didn’t realize it at the time but that was a beautiful act of selfless love on my mother’s part.
For me, it simply meant that Thanksgiving would be the one holiday that didn’t involve a whirlwind of activity, a rush of movement from one place to another. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy that sort of holiday pandemonium, but, rather, as my own family grew, it did make for a hasty retreat from one locale to another right about the time I was getting myself situated. Living in the cold Midwest also meant that bundling the little ones for their trip from one home to the next was an adventure in and of itself. But it was good, make no mistake about it.
But that Saturday Thanksgiving came to be my absolute most favorite day of all. There was something very soothing to the soul to get up on that particular day, year after year, and begin the holiday season at my mother’s home. It never occurred to me, as I enjoyed the aromas of homemade bread wafting from the kitchen into the living room, just what this meant for my mother, as well.
I have come to see, now, that it was truly an act of selfless love on her part. After all, she didn’t scrimp on any of the dinner preparations nor the decorations. Her home was always beautifully ornamented for Christmas and her joy came from our “Oohs” and “Ahhs.” So simple, really.
Of course I now realize that it also meant that on the “real” Thanksgiving, her home was empty.
I remember more than a few times telling people how my mother had Thanksgiving on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and being a bit startled by the responses. I remember one acquaintance who said, “Wow, my mother would NEVER do that!” Of course I recognize that while that particular mother may not have switched Thanksgiving, I’ll bet she offered other acts of selfless love that may or may not have been appreciated over the years. Moms just do that.
Saturday Thanksgivings and other acts of selfless love are what mothers are really all about.