The one holiday that rules them all is Thanksgiving. I will not budge on this.
Christmas is cool and all because people give you things and you get to put cool lights on your house and decorate, but a holiday where the sole purpose is to gorge on good food is easily the best.
Growing up, my family traditionally spent Thanksgiving weekend in Nampa, Idaho, at my grandparents’ house. When you are in a pastor’s family, getting away at Christmas is nigh on impossible, so you have to pick and choose your holidays.
Plus, the last weekend in November used to be when Northwest Nazarene University celebrated Homecoming – so our family would drive down to Idaho on Wednesday night, hoping to arrive by dinnertime (the chili was always on thanks to Grandma Powell) but often getting in much later because of bad weather on the passes.
We would spend Thanksgiving Day hanging out with my mom’s myriad siblings, all crammed into a tiny house with only one bathroom (this caused problems, but you learn to deal).
We would watch football, listen to Grandpa tell stories, read books, do jigsaw puzzles, play touch football in the street, eat huge amounts of food, and cap the day off by heading down to the Homecoming concert on campus.
The weekend always included two NNU basketball games, which would inevitably sell out. Back then the men’s team was a national NAIA powerhouse, so we got to watch them crush some hapless opponent.
As we all got older, Thanksgiving changed. Family members passed away, moved away, or had families of their own to spend time with.
We still had epic games of football – punctuated by my dad rolling his ankle on the curved sidewalks, my brother punching a hole in his hand (which I think he did on purpose so he didn’t have to go to the concert), my mom always coming out to punt a few times (always her favorite thing to do), a few snow bowls, and eventually when I reached college age, some epically large contests involving nearly regulation-size teams.
I’m not really sure when we stopped going to Nampa for Thanksgiving. Probably when my grandma moved into a nursing home and my aunt Rosemary followed suit.
As us kids spread out across the country, getting together for holidays became a bit more of a chore – but now that we are all back in the Northwest we have continued our Thanksgiving tradition.
Now we alternate Christmas and Thanksgiving with our parents and our inlaws.
This year was a Spokane Thanksgiving year and it was just as fun as the fond memories I have growing up.
It was smaller, as we have less family, but it was just as much fun. We played a little bit of football, watched a lot of football, started a jigsaw puzzle, played on our iPads/iPhones/Androids way too much, had a rousing game of Up the River, Down the River (Mick won for the first time ever, so the apocalypse could be soon), and ate a ton of food.
There was a moment when I was sitting there watching my daughter interact with her cousins and I flashed back to when I was a youngster, hanging out with relatives and what a blast it was.
I hope that my daughter will have similar memories – though she’s still too young for that, I suppose.
At the very least, it was a good reminder that I have a lot to be thankful for. A loving family, who gets along with each other. And really, that is what makes holidays so special.
That and the gravy. Mmm, gravy.
– Craig Craker