We’re approaching the end of the holiday week, with family dinners and gift exchanges already a distant memory and New Year’s Eve merriment on the horizon. A rarely mentioned highlight of this time is that for many of us, work slows down. The luckiest are off completely, either because their organizations are closed or they’ve taken vacation time. And except for retailers and others with year-end pressures, little is missed by being off this week.
I couldn’t help but think of this when hearing the Christmas carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” over the past month. “Rest” opens the song and “Tidings of comfort and joy” are repeated in the refrain, which has been sung for nearly 200 years. Not a bad message.
Slowing down a bit at year end gives us the freedom to better enjoy the holidays and the people we celebrate with. Yes, I guess that’s the “tidings of comfort and joy” bit. And a little time away from our daily routine translates to some “rest.”
However you’re spending your time, wishing you rest, comfort and joy.
As we prepare for a day of gratitude and turkey dinners, I can’t help but notice how this simple occasion is truly a cut above the other popular holidays. Think about it – Thanksgiving is devoted to enjoying a traditional, home-cooked meal with family and friends – and that’s it. No presents, costumes, parades (okay – besides Macy’s extravaganza), religious observances, obligatory customs or special songs. What happens is pretty consistent from household to household regardless of where you live in America. You gather around a table to enjoy a meal – typically featuring turkey – honoring America’s origins and all we have enjoyed since those New England harvest festivals centuries ago.
In many communities, it’s also a day to remember those in need expressed through the preparation and distribution of Thanksgiving dinner baskets or volunteering in soup kitchens before enjoying one’s own meal.
Besides personal goodwill, there is corporate goodwill: only Thanksgiving uniquely extends to a four-day holiday weekend. So once you’ve celebrated – or endured – an afternoon with your relatives, you have three more free days to enjoy. In fact, many states officially declare that Friday as a holiday, joining their commercial neighbors. Recognizing the need for entertainment, the NFL schedules plenty of game time, while local high-schools often play their rivals on Thanksgiving morning. There are always a few new movies opening around this time, while many towns host “Turkey Trot” road races or holiday craft fairs to encourage a little family time. In other words, Thanksgiving never means having to get away to enjoy yourself; there is always something special to do over these crisp November days.
So as you enjoy your turkey dinner, remember to be thankful for what makes this holiday experience so special. Simple pleasures are often the best. And when December rolls around, reminisce about feeling well-fed and well-rested before the chaos of those holidays begin!
Wishing you a happy – and delicious – Thanksgiving holiday!