No set way to celebrate

Published 2:04 pm Friday, November 15, 2019

Thursday night I had the pleasure of traveling to Cairo to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with my roommate’s family. Her sister was in town from Texas for a wedding and would not be back for Thanksgiving or Christmas, so everyone pitched in to make a celebratory “Thanksmas.”

Everyone celebrates holidays a little differently, so it was fun to see how their family celebrated.

Growing up, Thanksgiving was a whole day affair in my family. My sister, Alex and I would wake up to my mom cooking and my dad preparing the turkey for the Big Green Egg. We would quickly get ready and begin to set the table and put ice in the glasses.

Thanksgiving lunch was traditionally a formal affair. We would eat in the dining room, only reserved for special occasions and holidays and use the Lenox china my parents were gifted when married. The deck would be clean and a fire would be just starting in the firepit, with plenty of chopped wood for later. The bar would be fully stocked for mimosas and various Bloody Mary concoctions.

Everyone would arrive early and snack on appetizers, such as my cousin’s requested chicken cheese ball or cream cheese raspberry chipotle dip, before we all settled into lunch.

The kids usually had a separate table, so they wouldn’t interrupt the adult chatter. Following the end of a very long and filling lunch, we would clean up and all prepare to meet at Eames Christmas Tree Farm to all pick out our Christmas trees.

It was tradition; no one in the Holloway family would be caught dead with a fake tree. My dad was the only one with a truck, so we would load all four trees into the truck and deliver them to each home, before heading back to our house and beginning on our tree.

Everyone had a slightly different task. My dad would toss down the Christmas stuff from the attic that Alex and I would move to the den and separate. Alex and I would detangle the lights, before my mom would string the lights on the tree, while my dad went to work hanging the wreaths.

Finally, we would all decorate the tree, while my favorite movie “Father of the Bride” would play in the background.

It would be a day of cooking, full bellies and decorating. The fun would end usually around 9:30 or 10 p.m. when my dad would fall asleep in his recliner from the hard work and my sister and I would sneak off to bed.

Thursday night’s “Thanksmas” was not quite like this. It was a causal, informal affair, but equally as fun.

I showed up to the house, decked out in a kimono and chandelier earrings, while most were dressed in tshirts and jeans. I knew I stood out like a sore thumb, but I was greeted with hugs anyway.

There wasn’t any munching on appetizers; it was time to get down to eating. We said a prayer, before grabbing our paper plates and filling them to the brim.

There was no set “special room” or “kids table” everyone piled in and mingled together.

Stories were shared and laughs were had. There was no rush to complete the next task of the day. In fact, upon finishing everyone retreated to the den and watched reruns of last year’s Georgia vs. Auburn game.

As opposite as it was from what I’m accustomed to, it was still an evening of gathering and praise for what we are thankful for most: family and friends. It doesn’t matter what you wear or what you do the day of, the most important thing is getting to celebrate together, and for that I’m thankful I got to spend Thursday night with the Johnson clan.