Here's a fun holiday tradition I have: drowning in a puddle of my own tears around 7 p.m. every Christmas Day. It's a leftover reaction from childhood, when all of the build-up and excitement came crashing down under exhaustion and too many candy canes. Christmas is pure magic, pure loveliness, but that sadness that hits me when it's all over is a reminder that often the best part is the anticipation. Despite my love for expensive coffee flavored with peppermint, and the clear superiority of Christmas lights over pumpkins, I find that I really prefer this in-between place. This special time when Christmas isn't yet here, and everyone is hyperventilating and saying fuck it and spending half their paycheck on matching Christmas jammies for the whole family. When Christmas movies are circulating on Hallmark, but I'm not in a rush to make sugar cookies because there's still time — there's still so much more to come. In other words, what I love best is everything Thanksgiving embodies.
Despite my insistence on never hanging up Hobby Lobby wall art emblazoned with family messages or "rules," I'm a big believer in a popular saying created on Cricut machines in suburban America every year to stick on pallets and wine glasses: enjoy the little things. But there is also a part of me, a very large part, that is a bit like Clark W. Griswold and needs every one of those little things to feel good. It's not enough to decorate the Christmas tree — I want to decorate it with Albert Finney starring in Scrooge on the TV and with candles lit and hot chocolate with gooey marshmallows in everyone's mug. I can't just bake cookies — I want my girls in their matching aprons and I want the kitchen clean before we start and I want all the Christmas lights glowing in the background. Wrapping presents isn't a chore — it's a whole experience that includes Miracle on 34th Street, a glass of wine, and my favorite vintage wrapping paper so I can pretend I'm a 1950s housewife as I tape up train sets.
Surprisingly, none of this has to do with Instagram or social media or trying to be someone I'm not: it's just how I work. And all of these desires and scenarios I dream up in my head are attainable. They often work out just like I imagined (with maybe one or two hiccups, but when you're a dreamer, you have to leave room for those), and I fall over with thankfulness and joy at just how sweet these moments are.
But Thanksgiving is the sweet spot. It's the in-between place where I can dream about all the things to come, without making them happen just yet. There's no panic about it already being December 13 and me not having made our double chocolate peppermint cookies yet. It's just Thanksgiving — it's family sitting together to watch Charlie Brown, and it's grandparents asking my 5-year-old what she wants for Christmas, and it's polishing off one pie knowing there's going to be more. Thanksgiving is the season of brown corduroy jumpers for everyone — and so much still to come.