PRESENT TO THE PRESENCE

My mom has hosted Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, my brother Zach and I would wake up, run downstairs and immerse ourselves under heavy blankets to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade. We’d drink hot chocolate from our special Looney Tunes mugs and be content for the next few hours as we ooh’ed and ahh’ed at the giant balloons and baton twirls, patiently waiting for Boyz II Men to enter Times Square. The snow outside made the neighborhood quiet and glittery. Looking from the inside out, we felt like we were in our very own snow globe.

We drew in aromas of apples, onions and cinnamon as the still of the morning was filled with the sound of clinking pots and pans and the chopping of vegetables. The heat of the oven warmed the entire house, making us feel loved and cared for. The banisters were wrapped in garland with twinkling white lights, catching the attention of cars outside as they slowed down to get a better look. Tony Bennett played softly in the background telling us about a few of his favorite things and the table setting always brought to mind a modern-day Norman Rockwell painting. 

As the parade went on, we grew restless, only to be sucked back in by the reminder that Santa had yet to make his appearance. Two cups of cocoa and sixteen marshmallows later, there he was, marking the end of the parade and the beginning of the holidays. 

Slipping out of our flannel pajamas and into our Thanksgiving day sweaters, the morning gave way to the afternoon and the anticipated arrival of our relatives left us racing to the big bay window every time we’d hear a car pass by. The sound of slamming car doors doubled as a gun shot at the starting line. The family had arrived! Grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Hugs and kisses were exchanged as the slush on their boots made it to the bottoms of our socks. 

When it was time to eat, we gave thanks to the One who provided it all. As eyes were closed, I opened mine to take a peek at my family all gathered around the table. We passed the potatoes and buttered our buns while inhaling the meal that had taken all day to prepare. Soon, Grandpa would be snoring on the couch and we’d be throwing the football around outside. After an hour or so had passed, Grandma would call us in for pumpkin pie, the sign that our night was quickly coming to an end. 

Eyes gradually grew heavy and the snores increased as the last of the dishes were put away. With contagious yawns and laughter, the night drew to an end as the blankets were laid out and pillows fluffed. In the mind of this little girl, the holidays had just begun, and so had the memories.

•••••

While preparing the turkey and setting the table may seem like an unwanted hassle, I promise you someone is watching and taking it all in. Your children are in the next room painting every detail in their heads. They feel the magic, even if you don’t. Years later, they will recall what they wore, the sights and sounds that surrounded them, the laughter that was exchanged between Mom and Dad, and the warmth and wisdom they gained from their grandparents.

In the midst of our five-dollar lattes, keeping up with the Kardashians and updating our Facebook statuses, we tend to forget what’s really important. Our phone is glued to our hand while we’re with our grandparents and our career has taken priority over dinner with the family. We continually let trivial things take precedence over the here-and-now. This Thanksgiving, I don’t want to be lost in the world wide web or consumed with perfecting my pie crust when I could be quoting Home Alone with my brother, cooking alongside my grandma, setting the table with my mom or joking with my dad.

Be present to the presence of your family, friends, and everything else for which you are thankful. Slow down and take in the sights and sounds of the blessings you have been given. I want to focus on what I see, taste what I eat, and hear the noises that surround me, bringing mindfulness to the season of Thanksgiving. Unplug from the outer world and tune into the conversations happening all around you. While making my own memories this holiday season, I’m going to make sure I play a big role in the memories of others as well.


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