Tonight after work I stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up red leggings and a red shirt for Olivia, so that she could be Olivia the Pig for school tomorrow. I walked right into a holiday clash, as this picture clearly shows:
Regardless of where you personally stand in the controversy over stores being open on Thanksgiving Day for extended Black Friday shopping, I am here to report that the Christmas shopping season has now officially arrived.
I met a friend for breakfast this morning at our local Panera Bread (one of my favorite places), as Costco is near by and she wanted to be there when it opened to get her Thanksgiving pies. I decided to stop there, too, and check out their microwave oven prices, as ours died completely yesterday. They evidently opened earlier than usual, though, because as I drove up the street I could see their full-to-overflowing parking lot. I didn’t want anything badly enough to brave that mess, so I just kept on driving! (My friend reported later that they had every check stand open and she was actually in and out with her pies in less than twenty minutes. Well done, Costco!)
As I drove to the grocery store I realized that traffic on our main thoroughfare was already gridlocked, as it will be through the New Year. So were many of the grocery aisles, especially those in the meat department and bakery. And many people were “shopping by committee”, with three or four people standing together in the middle of the aisle, staring blankly at the shelves and making it impossible to pass without being rude. Why do I always wait until the day before Thanksgiving to buy my feast? At least I’m consistent.
Of course, after I got home and unloaded my purchases I realized what I had forgotten. So later I went out again, this time to the post office on the opposite side of town, the newest one that always has the shortest lines. I was mailing a hand-made Christmas card to a crafter in England, and needed International postage. Feeling very accomplished, I visited my second grocery store of the day for the remaining ingredients for our Thanksgiving dinner. After searching in vain for frozen spinach, I finally found my favorite store manager, who sent one of his guys searching in the back room for it, and was rewarded when he returned triumphantly holding a spinach package above his head!
Contrary to many years past, grocery stores are all open Thanksgiving Day now, at least for limited hours. So tomorrow morning I will be able to go back for the third time for the celery that I forgot not once, but twice. Not only does it go into my stuffing, but it helps keep the turkey from sticking to the roasting bag. Yikes! But first I’ll try borrowing some from one of my neighbors. I’ve had enough shopping for a few days!
For the record, I won’t be doing any “Black Thursday” shopping tomorrow. And when Friday comes, I won’t be visiting any of the stores that were open on Thursday when their employees would have loved to be home with their families. I am grateful that Olive Garden Restaurant remains closed on Thanksgiving Day so that we can enjoy the holiday the way it was designed to be — with our families. That said, I recognize that the restaurants that stay open tomorrow serve a definite need for those who either don’t want to cook or don’t have families with whom to spend the day. I’m just glad ours is not one of those.
However you choose to spend the day, I hope it is happy and full of thankfulness for the wonderful opportunities this country has to offer. And if you start putting up your Christmas decorations tomorrow after dinner, I won’t complain at all. Our house will begin its metamorphosis from Thanksgiving to Christmas about that time, too.
At 6:45 this morning my daughter and I arrived in downtown Visalia, bundled up layer by layer against the November morning chill. A local rock and roll band was covering favorites from the ’60s forward, and registration tents sheltered volunteers handing out vest numbers and race tee shirts. There was a wonderful party spirit in the air, as friends found each other in the gathering crowd, exchanging high-5s and hugs. This is what Visalia does best: friends, families, and neighbors joining together to raise money for those less fortunate while having a wonderful time.
This was my third year participating in the “walking” race…one mile right down the middle of Main Street and one mile back. (A group from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has gathered for this race for the last several years.) My daughter was celebrating two months as a non-smoker by running her first 5K with a friend.
As we waited for the kids races to end, the emcee announced that our race participation this year would enable Visalia Emergency Aid to feed 2,500 families with at least 5,000 children this winter!
We took off a little after 8:00 a.m.; our little group included 7 adults, 2 dogs, and the newest member of our congregation snuggled up in a pack on his mommy’s chest. At one point I looked around me and counted at least six strollers and seven dogs in my immediate vicinity, people sporting turkey hats, elf costumes, tutus, and, of course, Turkey Trot 2013 tee shirts.
The final count wasn’t in by the time we finished, but the preliminary count was 6,000 participants this year, proof positive that no matter how gloomy the television news may be, generosity and goodwill are alive and well in Visalia. By 9:00 a.m., we were back home in our kitchen working on our Thanksgiving feast, content that we had each done our part in feeding others in our community.
I am blessed.
Today has been filled with “busyness”, and with two hours left, I have about three hours of prepping-for-the-holiday tasks to do! The beds are all freshly made and the granddaughters will be sleeping in my bed so their uncle can have their room. We are all anxiously awaiting his arrival from Southern California. I wish he lived across the street!
I’m heading into the kitchen to make fudge and cook the frozen pie…yes, Sara Lee does a better job with pie than I do! Some cranberry sauce will give the house the proper Thanksgiving smell, and making it is one of my traditions carried on from my mother. Once we finish the Race Against Hunger and are back home again, orange rolls will start off Thanksgiving morning (thank you, Poppin’ Fresh), and then the teamwork will begin. I love the way my daughter, my son’s girlfriend, and I work as a team in the kitchen. The conversation is easy and laughter-filled, and my heart overflows with happiness.
I hope wherever you are, you are with loved ones, toasty and warm. Please remember those who are not as fortunate, and be a blessing to all you meet.
I am really out of sorts today. I missed posting yesterday (first time this month) due to some chaos that erupted here at home moments after I sat down to write, and I’ve just been kind of “off” all day. The girls went (unwillingly) to bed nearly an hour and a half ago, and they are still rocking and rolling in their room, which aggravates me even more! Tomorrow makes a solid month since my Jeep went to the mechanic, and there is no end in sight. Aarrgh!
My mental picture of Thanksgiving Day includes a rather Rockwellian family seated gracefully around the overflowing dinner table, with scrumptious food presented on beautiful china, presided over by the elegant, composed matriarch. In truth, we are a rather motley crew, my good china is still in storage, and I will be much more harried than composed by the time the bird is on the serving platter (and no, I don’t carve it at the table — butchery should remain private).
But the essence of Thanksgiving will be there. Mom’s legacy will live on in her stuffing and freshly-made cranberry sauce. If the chocolate gods are cooperative, I will make my mother-in-law’s wonderful fudge. And if I am especially blessed, all the food will be ready at the same time, and so will the diners. Both my children, their significant others, and my granddaughters will be at the table, along with my husband-who-lives-across-town in his role as benevolent granddad. My own daddy and brother will drop by for a short visit, too. Because several feasters are non-Christians, we will begin our meal by sharing what we are thankful for instead of saying grace, and those words of thanksgiving will become grace in their own way.
Re-reading what I just wrote, I realize that the noises from the girls’ room have stopped and they are finally asleep. My grumpiness has abated as I realize that, by this time tomorrow night, my precious son will be here. My grocery shopping will be done, fudge made, kitchen cleaned, grandchildren asleep.
I am a thankful woman.
As this Thanksgiving Week begins, I am counting so many blessings. Sitting here in my cozy bedroom with my granddaughters asleep under their blanket tent in the next room and their parents heading to bed across the house, I am grateful to be in the heart of this family. I look forward to a Thanksgiving visit from my precious son and his sweet girlfriend, and a quick stopover by my dad and little brother. There is nothing better than being with family, unless it is being with family during the holidays!
I am grateful to be healthy enough to get up Thanksgiving morning for the Race Against Hunger with my daughter, raising money for Foodlink of Tulare County. It is hard to imagine the level of hunger that exists here in the richest agricultural area in the world. I appreciate every small opportunity to help share food with those in need.
I am thankful for the written word and a love of reading. I spent many hours today deeply engrossed in a novel shared yesterday by a friend. I’m down to the last two chapters, and will finish it before sleeping tonight.
And I am thankful for you, for choosing to read my musings and share your thoughts with me. I hope my words give you pleasure, or make you think in different directions.
Today was “small business Saturday”, so I celebrated by visiting a holiday boutique coordinated by my dear friend Tami. It was my first real exposure to Christmas shopping this year, and it was lovely. Lots of high quality handmade things, personalized gifts, and unique jewelry. And since Christmas is barely five weeks away, it was time. I bought a present and got more than a few ideas for later.
Then I visited a chain department store, because I had a $10 off coupon that was expiring today. I get so aggravated when I let pure money expire! I thought I might find a new Thanksgiving wreath for the front door, or possibly a table centerpiece. We really enjoy Thanksgiving around our house, and our decorations could use some freshening up.
It felt like Thanksgiving in the store — almost. The ceiling and aisles were festooned with burnt-orange balls and garlands that upon closer inspection were clearly supposed to be Christmas ornaments, but modern and non-traditional. There was Christmas music playing in the background (yes, it is too early for Christmas music). I looked and looked, but could not find a single Thanksgiving decoration for sale anywhere in the store. They had great buys on Welcome mats, if I was ready for Santas, reindeer, or snowmen. But nothing even reminiscent of fall or harvest or thankfulness.
So I spent my $10 on new underwear for my youngest granddaughter, and went decor-less into the parking lot. The parking lot reminded me again of how much I dislike holiday department store shopping. Each year I blissfully forget what a mess parking lots are at Christmas time until the season begins again and I am forcibly reminded. Oh, yes, I heartily dislike shopping center parking lots at Christmas.
Which leads me back to the joy of small boutiques and independent shopkeepers. This next week I will head downtown to continue my search for Thanksgiving decorations. I won’t give up. I know they are out there. And then, after we have enjoyed our family holiday of thankfulness, I will be ready in my heart to decorate and shop for Christmas.