One Down, One to Go

Ah, Thanksgiving is finally here. Unlike the masses that shop in the store I work at, I’m thankful the holiday is here, rather than it’s still in the offing, so we can get past it and on to the last holiday of the year, and be done with 2020, as well as the ‘silly season’.

I suppose in a way it’s a symptom of getting older.  The more years I put on, the less I’m up for all the pomp and circumstances of the holidays, and more interested in getting them over and done with and behind me.  Christmas I suppose is pretty much the only holiday that I’m ok with tolerating, because it has elements that to me are enjoyable still and I can revel in, to some extent.  The music, some of the pagentry, the decorations (as long as they don’t get too ostentatious) and the memories things invoke, are more tolerable to me than the trappings of Thanksgiving.  To me, Thanksgiving reminds me of the year my mother died, and how that situation invariably ruined the holiday for me.

Too, the whole bastardization of the holiday is sort of off-putting, given how it was created in the first place.  Commercialization does have a way of making things less palatable, or perhaps dumbed down for the people that wish to have it simple, rather than understanding how it all began.  Thanksgiving was a holiday to allow people in the 19th century to be appreciative of what they had, to hearken back to a time when things were perhaps more dire and remember that there had been much progress in the 200 years since the pre-beginning of the US.  

Abraham Lincoln was the President that cemented the last Thursday of November as the ‘official’ Thanksgiving, in a time when there was a Civil War (hardly civil in many respects) raging in the southern part of the divided country.   There had been other days of ‘Thanksgiving’ or of memorializing the concept of being thankful for what the country had, or the citizenry of same possessed, or ‘had’ at that time.  With the unrest and armies mowing down each other en masse, it was necessary to refocus, or redirect the citizens into something peaceful, something to take away the horrors of the war that was tearing the country asunder.

Today, it’s all about retail.  Buying the right turkey at a reduced price, having to purchase the trappings to go along with it (gotta have that dressing, cranberry and pumpkin pie, right?) or if you’re less traditional, getting a ham or rib roast, and all the other sundries that go along with those menu choices.  Even this year, with people not traveling as much due to the pandemic, having to stay home unexpectedly, dragging out cookware that hasn’t been used in years, since they traditionally haven’t been home for the holiday.  I saw a lot of that this year, along with people asking about how to cook things that they like, but have no idea how to actually prepare it themselves. (I had a gentleman who stated he loved prime rib roast, he has it often, but when I got him the size he wanted for him and his wife, just before I turned away, he stopped me and asked how to cook it.  Fortunately, this wasn’t the first time this has happened, so I gave him a basic recipe that I’d seen on Foodwishes.com along with a handout that we have in the department for people that need a little assistance with cooking roasts and so on.)  Apparently not everyone either has an Internet connection or knows how to navigate it to find more than silly cat videos.

My wife and I, we’re celebrating subdued.  I have the day off from work (thank you!) so I don’t have to deal with the brouhaha there on the holiday.  Granted I’ll be working tomorrow for the aftermath, where we’ll be marking down the turkeys that we still have (the fresh ones, the frozen, or partially thawed ones go back in the freezer) and making the department look presentable after having been run from one end to the other for the past two days.  We’re getting a few holiday dinners from a place near us that does catering, the woman has been trying to make her business work with the pandemic, and people not needing catering for events that they cannot host due to restrictions on people gathering together.  You really have to feel for people who had planned for beginning businesses like that, and support them however possible.  So instead of cooking something ourselves, we’re picking up the dinners at 1 this afternoon, storing them in the fridge and having our holiday dinner this evening.  I’m roasting a butternut squash to go with the traditional meal we’re getting, just an addition that my wife and I both like.  Dessert is included, so we don’t have to worry about creating a huge mess in our galley kitchen.  No muss, no fuss and we can have a relaxed evening after.  

So, one holiday down, one to go.  If you made it this far, sorry (not sorry) for the rant.  I hope you and yours have a great holiday.  Enjoy the time you can spend together, if you can use Zoom, Skype or FaceTime (or Google Duo) to connect with your far flung off family, take time to do so.  Which reminds me, I need to FaceTime with my Mom. 

Happy Thanksgiving, 2020.

Twelfth Night

I was talking to one of my co-workers today about some things, and happened to mention that once I got home I would be helping my wife un-trim the Christmas tree and get the ornaments and such put away for the year, in concert with ‘twelfth night’.  He said that he’d never heard of that, and rather than go into the whole Epiphany tale, I just said “you’ve heard of the song, “Twelve Days of Christmas, right?  This is an offshoot of that..”  He agreed in assent that he had (I mean, who hasn’t?) and that he was unaware that anything was attached to that, that had any meaning.  I merely smiled and said that it was a tradition both in my family and my wife’s family, and we’ve been keeping it in our marriage over the last 26 years.

On my way home from work this evening, I noticed a lot more Christmas trees out on people’s curbs than I normally have for the last week or so.  Certainly, the people next door (who rent, FWIW) have always had theirs on the curb the day after the holiday, as if they needed to get the tree down and out of the house just as soon as the presents have been ripped open and (in the kids’ case) played with.  I always thought it an odd thing to destroy the beauty of the holiday by sanitizing your house as soon as possible as if it was a necessity.   All the effort goes into decorating, and as soon as you can, get rid of it all?  Weird.

My wife and I had been discussing for the past several days about how and when to de-trim the tree.  It was already agreed that it needed to be done before tonight, but there’s a process to it all, considering the tree needs to be taken apart, bagged and lugged down to the basement, and the ornaments need to be situated in their respective boxes (although unbeknownst to me, she had purchased a new ornament storage box that needed to be assembled) and then lugged upstairs to the spare bedroom that we use as an ad hoc storage area.

Since she’s retired, she said she would begin doing it today, and then I came home from work I could do all the items that were in the taller range since the tree is 7 feet tall (2.13 m) and she’s at best 5’3″ (1.6 m).  True to her word, once I arrived home she had been working diligently since about 2 pm and had the tree pretty much divested of the majority of its decoration.  She was only missing a couple of balls (that she’d humorously christened ‘Jack’ and ‘Diane’) and needed a place for some of the larger decorations, and thereupon needed the new storage box mentioned above.

I built the box (pretty straightforward, it only needed to have the inserts put in and situated), brought it into the living room and commenced assisting her taking things off the tree, discussing which box then went into and so on.  The stockings were removed from the fireplace mantle, placed into the box they’d come from, and in about 45 minutes the tree was looking pretty bare once more.  The lights are my bailiwick since I’m the tall one and don’t require a ladder to put them on.

We’ve been using egg boxes to wind the lights around, it’s convenient and works well, the light strings don’t get tangled while in storage, and they’re easy to find.  My wife mentioned that perhaps next year we could get some new lights (LED ones?) and use them as they’re a bit more cost-conscious.  I mentioned we have several light sets I purchased a couple of years ago on sale at the local Kmart that were on clearance which we’ve never used.  While I’m fairly certain they’re not LED, they’re a bit newer than the ones we have presently and might be a good upgrade.  Since we used color lights this year instead of the clear ones in years past, she was pleased with the way that it looked, and said that we might do it again this coming year.  We’ll see how it all pans out 11 months from now.

At any rate, the tree is down, stowed away and the ornaments are back upstairs slumbering until Christmas 2020.  I do lament over the fact that I don’t have a lot of the ornaments that I grew up with, but I think they got tossed in the great move of 1992, and for that, I’m truly sorry.  In the future, perhaps I can move on from that debacle.  Still trying.

Twelfth Night is accomplished.  On to the doldrums of January.  Hurrah?