Keys To Making Family Memories on Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving Day! What a Day! What memories!
Mine are memories filled with traveling to family, watching the parades, playing football outside while the Detroit Lions played on TV, stuffing myself before the Cowboys kicked off, dozing off during most of the Cowboy Game because of all that I had eaten, waking up just in time for another piece of pie and another game of touch football before it got dark outside.
There is something about Thanksgiving Day that is like no other holiday. It’s always on the fourth Thursday in November. (If you’re not in retail or ministry, that always means a four day weekend!) It does not have the pressure of the “presents” that comes with the Christmas Holiday. For many in this modern era, it is a day prepped with travel and cooking, a day filled with food, and parades, and more food, and football, then going to the movies to get out of the house and away from all the relatives you don’t like away, to then get two hours of sleep and get up at 2:00am to get to ready to hit the stores for all the Black Friday Sales.
On Thanksgiving Day, we join together and are united as a country like no other time. On this day, 95% of us will opt to eat turkey. Oh sure, those in Hawaii will rub their bird with coffee, New Englanders will salt encrust theirs, while those in the South will deep fry their turkey, . . . but "turkey" is the bird on this day.
As Americans on this Day, we make history. We will consume over 46 million turkeys, approximately 50 million pumpkin pies, and on average, during the course of the day with all of its snacking and desserts, each American will consume 5,000 calories.
What a Day!
Oh, we will make history alright. But in the midst of the food, and the football, and all the other activities of the day, there is something much more valuable to make, . . . memories! Family Memories!
So, how does one make family memories this Thanksgiving Day?
Key #1: Resolve to Enjoy, not just Endure!
If we enter into those activities and engage with those around us, we will make memories that will stay with us throughout our lives. On the other hand, if we withdraw, resolving only to endure rather than enjoy, we miss out on the present moment and only pave the way for future regrets. The truth is that life is simply too short and time with family is far too seldom for most of us.
But there is a reality to Thanksgiving. The reality is that Thanksgiving can be a day when the tension in the air is thicker than Aunt Mildred’s Special Goblet Gravy and one feels thrust together with people that, if given the option, we would never choose to spend time with nor share a meal. But if we resolve to enjoy the day and those in it, perhaps at the end of the day, we may find that we have done just that! And in the midst of it all, the way would be paved whereby memories could be made!
Key #2: Take the Initiative and Make a Memory!
Granted, some great Thanksgiving Memories are made that are totally out of our control, e.g., in 1974 when rookie Clint Longley led the Dallas Cowboys from a 23-3 deficit to beat the Redskins followed by my family “high-fiving” and hugging one another like they had never done before nor since, or the “pie-less” Thanksgiving of ’96 when the family bringing the pies left them on their kitchen counter 265 miles away.
But most memories are made when someone, . . . anyone, . . . takes the initiative to “make a memory” out of whatever the Thanksgiving Day setting and surroundings are.
Two of my favorite Thanksgiving Day Memories involve such initiative. I will never forget my Uncle Robert bringing out all the old men of our family (At the time, they were probably in their 40’s and 50’s) to enter into our touch football game after Thanksgiving Day Lunch. This group of out of shape males had seldom ventured outside except to smoke, much less expressed any interest in what us kids were doing. But on this Thanksgiving Day, they entered into our game, trying to pass and run and block like they were kids again. They talked trash and cheated and laughed and made it fun. What they did for us young cousins was make a memory of Thanksgiving Day like none other we had experienced.
And then, there was 1998 and the Thanksgiving Day destined for disaster! With the Cowboys losing, unwanted balmy weather, far too many loud nieces and nephews in a yard meant for anything but football, it looked like this would be a Thanksgiving Day to only endure and forget. Then, for no apparent reason, my adult nephew sized up the situation, took the initiative and became the monster-of-all-monsters, and began chasing every child in a game that would last into the darkness. For what seemed like hours, we ran and screamed and chased and laughed. At the end of our game, someone thought to take a picture of all of us, . . . all who were still standing (We lost half a dozen or so!), . . . sweaty and worn out.
That picture is still on all of our refrigerators, forever etched in our minds as one of our greatest Thanksgiving Day Family Memories. It is simply referred to as "The Monster Thanksgiving!"
Life Is Too Short!
This Thanksgiving, resolve to enjoy, not just endure it.
And then, somewhere during the day, take the initiative, and make a family memory!
And who knows, . . . maybe the picture of that memory will end up on your refrigerator for years to come!