When my husband and I married, almost 24 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.
Of course I now realize that it also meant that on the “real” Thanksgiving, her home was empty. But I also know that my mother wouldn’t have had it any other way. Saturday Thanksgivings and other acts of selfless love are what mothers are really all about.
October is quick approaching. It is the month of the Rosary and calling to mind Mary’s selfless giving for our own salvation. We know that JPII’s own relationship with the Blessed Mother was so unique that he introduced the Luminous Mysteries during his pontificate. JPII knew the healing value of the Rosary and the ways in which Mary is our blessed intercessor.
As autumn descends upon us, it seems fitting that the holiday season that includes Thanksgiving and Christmas ought to begin with a month dedicated to the Rosary and the ways in which it calls to our mind and heart the selfless life of our heavenly mother.