Five years ago, our granddaughter Audrey coined a new name for our family’s holiday get-together: “Thanks-Christmas.” That year we had Thanksgiving dinner on the designated date, and the next day we shifted into Christmas mode with a brunch, followed by the opening of gifts. This worked out great for all our children and grandchildren because later they could celebrate Christmas in their own homes or with extended family members.
Audrey, who was nine years old at the time, wrote a cute parody of Clement Moore’s classic, “Twas the Night before Christmas.” She named her poem, “Twas the Night before Thanks-Christmas,” and the first line went like this: “Twas the night before Thanks-Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was perkey, not even a turkey.” She even created a little figure out of clay—an angel holding a turkey!
Now we have shortened “Thanks-Christmas” to “Thanksmas”—that’s a lot easier to say. And we have built up a whole repertoire of activities surrounding our celebration. This year everyone traveled from Tennessee to our house here in Hot Springs Village on Wednesday, and that night we began with a Southern-style supper of fresh turnip greens, purple hull peas, corn casserole, honey-baked ham and cornbread.
The next day we prepared our Thanksgiving dinner together. That evening our older son, Steve, led the family prayer before our meal. Between dinner and dessert, our fourteen-year-old granddaughters, Audrey and Emily, presented Audrey’s original poem, and our ten-year-old granddaughter, Libbey, played several tunes on her violin. Our other son, Marty, read James Whitcomb Riley’s poem, “When the Frost Is on the Punkin,” in memory of my dad who always read that at our family Thanksgiving time when I was growing up. Then I presented Christmas tree ornaments to our five grandchildren to add to their collections.
On Friday morning, we had brunch and opened our gifts to each other. That afternoon, we also celebrated Granddaddy Robin’s 80th birthday with cake and ice cream. His birthday is Nov. 27, so it often falls close to Thanksgiving. Friday evening we went out to see the beautiful Christmas lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens, and afterwards, we came home to a wonderful supper of spaghetti and salad.
I’m sure many of you have also developed special holiday traditions with your families. We’d love to hear from you!