Selfless Love

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.

Cheryl Dickow


Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Womenwhich is co-authored with Teresa Tomeo and is published by Servant (a division of Franciscan Media); there is also a companion journal that accompanies the book and an audio version intended for women’s studies or for individual reflection. Cheryl’s titles also include the woman’s inspirational fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Elizabeth is available in paperback or Kindle format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at

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  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    Some might object to moving the holidays around on the grounds that the day itself is sacred. This objection is, of course, right, but it misses the point that the other day is sacred, too. Let’s say we move a Christmas celebration to December 21. Whoa! That’s pushing up the birth of Christ into Advent! How can we realize the blessed event before it happens?

    Of course, the blessed event actually occurred at the Annunciation. Christ’s movement from the inside of His mother to the outside is certainly an important milestone but it’s not necessarily the most significant milestone of the Incarnation. The Rosary alone documents 19 other events that are at least as important.

    Besides, December 21 is the feast day of several saints (
    * St. Peter Canisius
    * Bl. Adrian
    * St. Anastasius XII
    * St. Andrew Dung Lac
    * St. Themistoeles
    * St. Severinus
    * St. Glycerius
    * St. Honoratus of Toulouse
    * St. John & Festus
    * St. John Vincent

    Catholics used to celebrate something called Michaelmas with great ardor. Candlemas as well. But how many of us even know the traditional date of either? (I know Candlemas but not Michaelmas.)

    How about Severinusmas or Andrewdunglacmas? These men and women are in the presence of God right now. To venerate them is to worship the One who made and redeemed them. To study about them is to learn about God. Indeed, the more you get to know the saints the more you are pointed towards Jesus. So why not open a few presents on Severinusmas while singing Advent hymns and Christmas carols at Grandma’s house? Make it complete by going to Mass on that day, too.

    If doing all this can also reduce stress during the holy days, I’m all for it.

  • ekbell

    There is also the fact that Christmas and Easter both last for eight days.

    When I lived close enough to my parents, in-laws and extended family we enjoyed the way our visiting schedule naturally spread over the octave of Christmas. [Three or four Christmas dinners, plus present giving spread out over five or six days, yum!]

    There was very little in Advent as my side of the family wouldn’t dream of a get-together before Christmas but there would be plenty between Christmas eve and the Solemnity of Mary (New Year’s).

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  • noelfitz

    Changing Thanksgiving from a Thursday reminds me of the custom of having Ascension Thursday on a Sunday.

  • Christi Derr

    HomeschoolNfpDad – Michaelmas is St. Michael’s Feast day, September 29th. Now we celebrate all the Archangels that day (a great idea!) But it used to commemorate St. Gregory the Great’s vision of St. Michael in Rome. This famous vision to the Pope was a sign that the plague in that city would end.

  • seawood

    Maybe I’m missing somethng here, but I think Cheryl is right on the money. I was divorced when my kids were still little and in almost 20 years I never got to spend “the holiday” with them because they were always at home with mom and her parents on Thanksgiving Thursday or Christmas eve and day. We always celebrated early or late due to visitation dates. Even now, we do birthdays and the like whenever because of work or travel commitments. This doesn’t make the holiday any less important or less holy. It’s about family, God, and doing the best you can with what you have. Like the widow’s mite, do what Jesus would have you to do.