The First Thanksgiving

My first Thanksgiving at what would become my in-laws house.  I didn’t know it at the time, but their son would become my husband and I would give birth to their first grandchild.  Early family dinners are filled with such tension.  I wanted to impress them.  I wanted them to like me.

When I sat down, there was a marvel at my place.  A soup bowl filled with mashed potatoes.  At my home we serve our potatoes in a huge bowl that barely contains the almost 10 pounds of buttery mashed goodness, yet there is always bickering because everyone wants their fair share for the meal, and leftovers.  A curse on whoever leaves potatoes on their plate Thanksgiving day.  This pre-portioning solves all the problems.  My in-laws are geniuses!

We pass the food and fill our plates.  I take my fork and dip it into my potatoes.  Not as good as my parents, but edible.  I try another forkful.  My future husband leans over and whispers, “Those are for everyone.”

I have double dipped my fork in the soup bowl of potatoes meant to be shared with seven people.  Meekly I take a smidgen and pass to my left.  Then I get the “gravy” which looks like pan drippings with giblets floating in it.  I pass it on without dampening my dollop of potatoes.

It’s a wonder I stayed with him after that meal.  It’s a wonder I ever went back for another Thanksgiving.

Christmas morning

The Magic of Christmas at Six

The holidays are over but next year, I beg you, go find a six-year-old to spend Christmas with you.  It’s the closest thing to magic I’ve experienced in my adult life.

The wonder starts from the moment elves on the shelves start their creepy spying from bookcases and shower heads and ovens.  (No elf on the shelf at our house:  too beady-eyed stalkerish for me thanks.)  The parental threats of “Santa’s watching” with every misdemeanor cannot squelch the excitement.  Santa’s watching is a mystery to be explored.  He knows if you’ve been bad or good is a rule to ponder.  Santa Claus is coming to town is a fact full of anticipation.  Rudolph’s colleagues would be sued for discrimination in this day in age – shun the different guy – is a parental minefield.

At six though, the magic isn’t just in the belief; it’s in the new-found logic ability.

“Mom, that Santa at the mall, he’s not the real Santa.  The real Santa is too busy getting ready for Christmas at the North Pole.  Why is that fake guy here?  He’s scary.”

“Why do you think he’s here honey?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you believe in him last year?”

“Yeah… oh… he’s there for the little kids.  The ones who don’t understand that Santa is real and needs to be at the North Pole with the elves.  They need to see him, even if he is scary.  I’m a big kid now, so I know better, but I won’t tell the little kids.” 

The joy of that interaction: the unquestioning belief in the real Santa and all the work he needs to do; the logic of the scary fake Santas; the pride of figuring things out; and the understanding that you don’t ruin it for the little kids.   That my friends is a Christmas present of joy wrapped in belief wrapped in magic wrapped in logic wrapped in empathy in a box of parental astonishment right there.

I was almost sad to see Christmas morning knowing that six won’t last until next year.  There were only a few pictures as I immersed myself in the moment.

“Mom!  Santa gave me coal in my stocking, but I got other stuff too.  I bet I got it because he knows I love rocks and would want to study it.”

“I’m sure you are right sweetie.”

Merry Christmas wishes from the Afthead family to you and yours.  Wishing you and us magic at the holidays for years to come.