Happy Day After Thanksgiving!
As is the tradition in my home, I will be basking in the afterglow of great company and great food . . . AND NOT shopping . . . and doing a little work.
I have been pondering the conditioning that unfolds before me every year. ‘Black Friday’ being top on the list. It’s media and ‘big-box’ store conditioning. Every year, as Thanksgiving approaches, the BUY NOW anxiety begins, at least for me it is anxiety. And frankly it ruins my holiday, if I allow it.
Prior to the last 14 years, I really thought there was something wrong with me if I did not take advantage of the “EXTRAORDINARY SALE PRICES”. As a person who has lived pretty much pay check to pay check and has ‘booked up’ credit cards, I would generally spend the day after Thanksgiving feeling bad about myself and resolved that I would have to pay full price for the next Power Ranger or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy that my son wanted. The entire idea skewed my perception of money, saving, buying and who I was as a responsible adult. It also altered some of my relationships in that there were people I would not see because they were either going to bed early, to get up early to stand in line or they had thrown dinner on the table and were off already to spend their day in a line somewhere, under the illusion they were going to get a good deal and the cold, and crowds and jostling would all be worth it.
In 1997, my perspectives REALLY changed.
As I rolled over to get the clicker to turn on the Macy’s parade – (I was 9 months or so pregnant) – my water broke and it looked like I was going to have my second child, not only early (she was due on the December 4) but on Thanksgiving day.
There were no concerns in my head about sales and the coming holidays and weather I missed something. What I was thinking about was having a safe and sane labor and who was going to feed my baby boy, who was 9 at the time.
My baby girl was born at 1:01 the next morning. My son had spent most of his Thanksgiving with his “Granma” and shortly after her birth with the words, ‘cleft palate’ floating in my head, I literally passed out.
About 5am they came in and removed the epidural gear and again someone muttered ‘cleft palate’ and ‘underweight’ and ‘neo-natal unit’ . . . clearly I was in a serious haze, as was my husband and we once again missed our opportunity to hang out in a line somewhere.
At 7am the day after Thanksgiving, while others might be getting trampled at Wal-Mart, a surgeon presented himself in my room and was, by all accounts, shouting at us about the five or so surgeries my daughter would have to have, before she was ONE!
At some point, I started to cry and it all sunk in . . . all the mutters and hazy words . . . my baby girl had some challenges.
Our daughter was born with a “wide-bilateral, cleft lip and palate” – short story: her lip and palate had not finished forming and quite frankly she looked like a mini-Popeye.
Lemme just say, we clearly have ‘survived’ the circumstance. Five surgeries later and some braces, and one last surgery pending, I’d have to say we have flourished. At some point, before I even brought her home, I understood that this was her challenge, not mine and it was simply my job as her mommy to get her through it as best I could . . . with lots of love and support and as minimal of my own fears as possible.
Every year, since then, I consider those old moments . . . how we almost lost her in the early days because she could not eat and breathing was hard and she dropped weight and was jaundice. How for the first time in nine years I did not spend time playing with my son on Thanksgiving and we didn’t bake pies and how lonely and scared he was while we were in the hospital. That incredible young man went with us to every appointment, every surgery . . . helped us through every post surgery.
Some years her birthday falls right on Thanksgiving (I don’t know the exact years, I think my son keeps track ) Some years the day after, some years days before, this year several days later. As Thanksgiving approaches my time is spent considering what we will get her for her birthday – weather it’s on sale or not, who cares – and how to make her day special, as we are inundated with sale info and Christmas hype . . . and especially the last five Thanksgivings, – my son went off to college, since graduated and lives up north – how to make the time special for him and the two of them together. The two of them are very close. I don’t work two hard, I just make space. This year he is actually staying in town an extra day to share a birthday dinner with us all.
We had a lovely day yesterday. I ordered dinner, so it was about warming it up and adding a few sides. I got to listen to the video game banter between the two of them and share in some laughs rather than languish in the kitchen . . . and despite the recent separation between my husband and I . . . the day was peaceful and fun and full of warmth, laughter and some talk of ‘occupy’ and some chitter about our disdain of “Black Friday”, “Early Shopping Thursday” “Cyber Friday” and all the other manifestations or financial fear wondering around the planet . . . or creating a ‘sale’ to tag on to the pressure already out there.
My son asked me if I had some “special” planned for my teaching or my jewelry . . . I gave him a look and he laughed. “I know mom, we don’t do that here . . . we have better things to think about.”
And that says it all. For me, for my family, it’s choice. We don’t play because we have better things to think about. It is a choice to consider that Thanksgiving is more that a lead up to shopping for Christmas. My daughter in fact, reminds us that there is to be no talk of Christmas until after the first week of December – the month that is “SPOSE to be the Christmas month! November is MY month and Thanksgiving!” And I remind her that we all got ‘something’ right? Her brother’s b-day is back-to-school month, and her dad’s is Christmas month and mine is Mother’s day, to which she retorts “Yeah, you get double fun month”.
Ahhhh to be free of the conventions of a calendar and to somehow be free of all media hype, about anything. As I caught a snippet of news last night and heard of the 10, count ’em, TEN people that were injured in an effort to get into Wal-Mart . . . I remembered the poor woman who was trampled under a door last year and wondered, what was her family’s holiday like? What will Thanksgiving be like for those injured tonight?
It is a choice. To have a day that ou create, that is full of what inspires you and brings you joy. I do hope that everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, whatever your choices were
All my best,
“Make something everyday, even if it’s trouble :)” – Delia Marsellos-Trainster