Growing up, Thanksgiving wasn’t really on my list of favorite holidays. I honestly don’t have too many memories of Thanksgivings, and it could be because Christmas has always been very important to my family. I’ve jokingly referred to Thanksgiving as “Christmas 0.5,” because my family didn’t have too many traditions that made Thanksgiving stand out—it was basically like Christmas a month before Christmas, without the great music and cookies and gifts. But the holiday changed for me when I began seeing Jake.
Jake’s family loves Thanksgiving. His family is considerably smaller than mine, and this yearly intimate gathering is a very special day. There’s lots of great food, time to catch up, and time to relax together. Coming from a family that usually had Thanksgiving with at least 10 (but sometimes more like 15 or 20) people, a Thanksgiving of 6 or so felt strange to me at first. Now that Thanksgiving with Jake’s family has become our tradition, I look forward to it more than ever before.
The older I get, the more the holidays slip away before I can have time to truly enjoy them. This year, I made a Thanksgiving bucket list so I can reflect on all the things I’ve grown to love about Thanksgiving, and so I can hopefully savor the holiday a bit longer.
My Thanksgiving Bucket List
1. Bake cookies to eat before and after our meal. As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, the holidays and baking are synonymous for me. Baking gingerbread cookies has become a favorite activity in preparation for Thanksgiving, and this year I’ll be making a batch in the shape of fall leaves for added festivity. I also plan on trying to make some tea-flavored cookies that I hope will be excellent for an indulgent holiday breakfast.
2. Enjoy the quiet time. We travel to New England for Thanksgiving each year, and it is a beautiful reprieve from our everyday scenery. I never had to travel far for Thanksgiving when I was young, and I think the fact that we have to travel several hours has helped to make the holiday more special. Plus, Jake’s hometown is fairly remote compared to what we’re used to now, and it’s relaxing to be in a placid wooded setting.
3. Crochet, crochet, crochet. A long weekend means plenty of extra time to work on some projects. This is the stuff of dreams, friends. Hours and hours of free time to make headway on that new cardigan? The freedom to finish up some orders? Yes. Yes please.
4. Take pictures. Alright, so this is not a past favorite of mine, but it’s something I want to become better at doing! Of course, I love photography, but I’ve never been one to take pictures much in my everyday life. I recently told Jake that I’m worried we’re going to have no pictures to show our kids of our lives before them! I want to take pictures of family moments like Thanksgiving and actually print them and put them in a book so we’ll always have them.
5. Love the food. Jake’s mom is a wonderful cook, and our Thanksgiving meal never disappoints. All the essentials are present—turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and another one of my favorites, Brussels sprouts. We have pie for dessert (pecan, Jake’s favorite), and it’s hard not to be thankful for the feast.
6. Savor the family time. Thanksgiving has been a key component in my getting to know Jake’s family since we don’t live all that close to them. I’m glad to have the holiday to learn more about each of his loved ones, and every year I feel more and more integrated into the family.
7. Be thankful. I know this one sounds like a given, but it’s easy to get swept up in preparing for the holidays and not actually stop to remember why we celebrate them in the first place. We always go around the table and speak about what we’re thankful for before eating, and that means a lot to me. In years where I was having a hard time, it forced me to focus on what was going right. And now that I’m in a better place, it encourages me to feel overwhelmed with gratitude for how far I’ve come.
I’m grateful to have joined a family that has a different holiday routine than mine, because now my love for Thanksgiving is growing every year.