Last weekend, my 3-year-old discovered a new animated Christmas movie on Netflix. It’s adorable, so we may have watched that Yuletide flick a little early. I liked it, too, so we were all good.
But then when it started getting dark, she said, “It’s almost bedtime and then Santa will come!”
I jumped in with, “No, honey, it isn’t Christmastime yet. That’s still a month away.”
She looked at me like I was speaking Latin because, yeah, she is 3 and doesn’t really know what a month means. I started laying the groundwork of all the things that have to happen between now and Christmas. We still have to have Thanksgiving, get a Christmas tree, decorate the house, etc.
She seemed to accept that. She went to sleep without setting out cookies and milk, and she didn’t wake up disappointed that the Chubby One had missed our house. I thought I was in the clear until we walked into Target later that day.
She literally gasped. She yelled, “Look at it! It’s amazing! It is Christmastime mommy! See?”
Sigh. How to rebut that? The store’s halls were decked with hanging signs, garland trim and a fully-functioning Christmas section with decorated trees, holiday candies and every little blinking light Clark Griswold could ever want.
I didn’t even try. While she shouted things like “This is amazing!” and “Best day EVER!”, I put my head down and focused on my groceries. Just get the food and get out. Once we returned home, I reinforced my "it isn't Christmas yet" mantra and, eventually after much conversation, she seemed to understand.
Until we went to Home Depot for paint the following day, where a display of stunningly festive Christmas trees were right in the front of the store. Come on, man!
I decided to really hit on Thanksgiving after that. “It isn’t Christmas until after Thanksgiving, honey. Yay, Thanksgiving!”
She gave me a blank look that said, “What is this Thanksgiving you speak of?”
So I attempted to explain. I talked about how everyone comes over to our house — aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents — to eat food. We eat and — and then I was tapped out. I looked at her little face and drew a blank. What else was there? Er, the Detroit Lions? Um, had I mentioned food?
It hit me then that Thanksgiving is the Jan Brady of holidays; the so-so, perfunctory, yawning meh of celebratory days.
Perhaps your family has found a way to make it really wow, but in my house it's all about eating — and having a nice visit. That is all. No presents, no mascots, no candies, no songs; it's the turd of holidays.
Independence Day has fireworks. New Year’s has glitter and partying. Easter has the bunny and Valentine’s Day has the sweets. Even Labor Day has camping and grilled delights.
Thanksgiving has squat to offer kids — except the opportunity to get in trouble for being too silly or giggling too hard during grace when their cousin Dan throws an olive into a glass of water. My mother still chides me for this — a million years later — but it was totally his fault. So unfair.
Perhaps we need a reboot. Maybe we should re-make this most beige of all holidays.
What about introducing Father Cornucopia — a wacky dude with a horn of plenty hat who brings candy to all the good children when they leave lists of what they’re thankful for in their shoes on the porch?
Hmm. This could work. Bring on the Thanksgiving carols.
Lynn Kirkle is a writer and lives in Omaha with her husband and five children. She writes twice a month for momaha.com, and can be found on Twitter @LAPainter.