it isn't the holiday and what each stands for, but it rigamarole that goes with it. It is so aggravating (is that spelled correctly?) to have to change plans fourteen times to accomodate all the members of the family.
It wasn't so complicated when my girls were little and still living under the same roof as me. It wasn't so complicated when I was little... well, at least I didn't notice any complications. Except the day that I bawled and squalled because it snowed and we couldn't go to my grandmother's house in Oklahoma. All the roads were covered in ice and snow. My dad put his foot down. He simply was not going to buy snow tires just so we could dash up to Oklahoma (it took 12 hours of driving straight through with two hurry-up restroom stops/gas tank fill-ups and one leg stretching to check weather in Paris, TX but was actually so we could eat bar-b-que at this hole in the wall that looked like it would keel over at the first breath of wind).
Generally, we'd have Thanksgiving just us and then gather with all the brothers and sisters at my other grandmother's house in Arkansas. That was how you spent the day after Thanksgiving. Then they moved it to the day after Christmas. It was okay by me. I got to see all my cousins and aunts and uncles and new babies, you know, great family fun. It truly was fun. None of the kind of so-called "funny" stuff where families bicker and fight and call each other names... the kind you see on TV shows. Just really good fun, jokes, catching up and lots and lots of great stuff to eat.
It was sitting on the porch and listening to the brothers talk about the funny things they did when they were kids. It was sitting on the floor behind the rocking chair and listening to the women talk about all sorts of interesting topics which I cannot talk about here. It was racing through the woods and falling in the pond and picking persimmons and swinging on the oak tree swing. Oh, and lest I forget, it was using the stacked bales of hay as forts and falling on my back getting the breath knocked out. It was screaming Olly Olly Oxen Free. It was building a dam on the stream and getting yelled at for moving the stepping stones. It was sleeping on the floor under ten homemade quilts because it was 20 degrees outside. It was using the outhouse. It was pumping water. It was wearing shorts because it was 80 degrees in the afternoon. Sigh...
Today... children are grown and my girls are off in two different cities, my sister is in another, her older son is in another. Our schedules don't seem to match and this doesn't even include all my cousins and aunts and uncles.
We are in such a whirlwind rat race that no one has time to breathe much less sit on the porch and watch the people go by. This year after moving mountains (we were supposed to have Thanksgiving here at our house) we will now travel to southeast Louisiana, spend the night and return home the next day so that I can go to work on Friday. I'm not complaining! Really! I'm am just so delighted to get a paycheck every two weeks I can hardly complain.
What I hate is the tug-o-war that seems to take place in my body while all the plans are being made. It looks like we'll have to have Christmas at my sister's as well since that will be easier and closer for everyone else. But... it is much better than the alternative which is not seeing anyone at all. That is certainly miserable. I remember one Thanksgiving just after I split from my husband. My daughter begged to bring her father so he wouldn't have to be by himself. I graciously agreed. I cooked for 4 hours, we ate in about 30 minutes, they cleaned up and then everyone left by 3pm. I had the house all to myself. To most that would seem like a really terrible Thanksgiving. For me, after I got over the fact that everyone left me alone, the peace and quiet was rather nice.
Sometimes God gives gifts that last forever and sometimes He gives gifts that make you realize that holidays are just days like any other day--it is the people, your family and your friends that make the day special. Families do last forever. I eagerly await the day the Father will say, "Son, go get your bride!" Then we'll be living in true holidays.