Michelle Martin

Calm before the storm

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I think I’ve decided that my favorite part of Thanksgiving weekend is the weekend.

Not that I don’t like the holiday. It’s a wonderful holiday, full of family and food and a remarkable lack of commercialism, at least if you don’t count its status as unofficial start to the Christmas shopping season.

The main expectation for Thanksgiving is a meal that includes roasted turkey and sweet potatoes. And supermarkets actually put turkey on sale in the lead-up to the day. Florists preparing for Valentine’s Day might want to take note.

For the last several years, I haven’t even had to worry about making the turkey. I’m blessed with a lovely sister-in-law who says she actually enjoys making the whole meal, leaving us to contribute things like drinks and butter. I choose to believe her.

But Thanksgiving Day is still an occasion. There are things to do and places to go and a schedule. The rest of the weekend, though, is like the calm before a storm.

I know it’s not like that for everyone. Plenty of people spend Black Friday shopping; some even head out after dinner on Thanksgiving itself. I’ve done that before, and it can be fun in an “I did it and lived to tell the tale” kind of way. I even once got a portable vacuum cleaner on Black Friday for $9; it’s still going, I don’t know how many years later.

These days, though. I prefer to spend the morning of Black Friday sleeping in as late as the dog and the kids will let me, and then probably spending most of the morning in my PJs. Yes, even walking the dog. No one has school or work, and no one has to cook because there are plenty of leftovers.

The rest of the weekend is equally quiet, even if the leftovers eventually lose their appeal and we do have to get going on the Christmas preparations. The holiday is still far enough away that there’s no real sense of urgency about it.

This year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the Feast of Christ the King, with the first Sunday of Advent falling on the first Sunday of December. It will be a short Advent this year, with Christmas Eve falling on the fourth Sunday. That gives three weeks and a day instead of an actual four-week period.

That means that we get one week to prepare ourselves for Advent, a time that is supposed to be for prayerful anticipation. This year, maybe we should take that time to make a plan to spend some getting ready spiritually. Maybe we can even set aside time in our schedules to reflect on the Advent readings, or to talk about Advent with our kids. 

It’s not stealing that time from the endless round of shopping and wrapping and baking and decorating and shopping some more. If anything, all of those things are stealing time from what we should be doing.

So once I’m rested up from Thanksgiving, I’ll get ready for it.


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