Monday, November 11, 2013

Thanksmas, THE Most Wonderful Time of the Year

There seems to be so much hoopla surrounding the holidays. Some of us can't start early enough, and some of us freak out when the retailers jump the gun three months before any given holiday hits. I, for one, believe in celebrating everything as long as possible.  

You want to listen to Christmas carols in July? Wonderful. You enjoy partying it up by noting all of the holidays in December, including Kwanzaa and Hanukkah? You overachiever, you! You like to say Happy Holidays to be inclusive? Bless your heart. You don't want to take down your Christmas tree until Easter? My hat's off to you!  

I say we don't celebrate enough. To wait until Christmas Eve, for me, would be a tragedy. It just so happens that our family's holiday traditions started evolving about 22 years ago, when Sierra was about two, and Dylan about four. 

My mom lived back east near five of my siblings. Her other three kids lived out west. To divide herself between her two camps of kids, she started celebrating Thanksgiving here with us, and Christmas there with them. And someone got the bright idea to go ahead and celebrate Christmas a little early with Mom the week she came to visit. Thus, Thanksmas was born. Thanksgiving dinner segued into Christmas tree decorating and a family gift exchange.

Sierra started to help with dinner with her green bean
We take turns hosting the event between our homes in Utah and Idaho. The host family provides the turkey, and the rest of us have standard assignments. My brother Eric makes the best HOLIDAY STUFFING ever, Mom makes the rolls and a pie or two, Joelle, our Idaho girl, makes the creamiest mashed potatoes, I make the pies, and the last few years, my Sierra has made the green bean casserole.  

So many people seem to get worked up about taking each holiday as it comes, making certain that Halloween ends before putting up anything Thanksgiving-related, and NEVER mixing in Christmas decor until the Turkey Day festivities have been cleared away. Not us. We go full bore on Christmas during the month of November in preparation for our family's Thanksmas celebration.

I like to have my tree up before everyone arrives.  Some of us let the kiddos decorate our trees after
Dylan ALWAYS helps the littles
decorate the tree. He is Mr. Tradition
in our family.
dinner while the kitchen is being restored to order. All of the gifts are put under the tree. After we all gather in the living room, we each take turns telling what we're thankful for, going in order from youngest to oldest.  

It's kind of cheesy, and sort of predictable, but it helps us focus for a moment on something other than the gifts. It's a nice transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Then the passing out of the presents begins, and there is a frenzy of paper tearing and bow throwing, "thank yous," and "I love its."

My kids have always looked forward to Thanksmas more than Christmas because that is our big holiday celebration with my family. It is the only holiday out of the whole year that we celebrate with my side of the family. Holidays are about family time after all, and it is so wonderful to have everyone gathered together under one roof for that very special time. Christmas has always been low-key around here. Thanksmas is the big deal for my kids.

My children are the oldest of the cousins out west, and so our family is feeling the subtle, and not-so-subtle changes in our holiday celebrations first. 

Last year, our Sierra was living in Colorado, and could only come home for one holiday, so we thankfully saw her over Christmas. This year, Dylan and Jamie will be taking a Thanksgiving holiday with the Hansens, which is only fair. Again, Sierra has asked to be excused this Thanksmas, saying she will celebrate with us in the new year, when air travel is less expensive, and they can arrange time off of work. I have adult children now, with significant others to consider. We may see our holidays evolve further once grandchildren enter the picture, and we juggle schedules to meet the desires of in-laws.  
Over the years we have seen our celebration include newcomers, and we've had some sad goodbyes. My mom has been widowed twice since we started celebrating Christmas in November over two decades ago. As babies joined the family, our numbers grew. My big kids have brought their boyfriends or girlfriends.  As my nieces from Virginia have moved out west to go to college, they have attended if they didn't have other plans. All are welcome.

Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to family and holidays. That's how we ended up with Thanksmas. I have the fondest memories of those gatherings. Combining our holidays of Thanksgiving with Christmas gives us the best of both worlds. I have a feeling we'll be seeing new traditions develop, and old traditions will be tweaked to accommodate our ever-changing family.

These pictures are in no particular order, and may or may not include everyone who has attended our holiday celebration.  I just wanted to post a few of my favorites that show the camaraderie of the cousins, the silliness, and the warm family feelings. Thanksmas is truly my most favorite holiday of all.
Shrink and her boys.  Both of my boys call me Shrink. 

Those smiles light up the room.

Our family smile; must be genetic.  The sense of humor sure is!

Rudolph noses...Bubba teef...there's always room for silliness.

One of our favorite dogs, enjoying a quiet moment before the festivities begin.

I'm being nice, and not posting all of the pictures of everyone in their tryptophan-induced slumber.
Here are two of my nieces.  Everyone gets pretty cozy when all of us gather.

There's always laughter.  Lots of laughter.

Rowan is too big for my brother Eric's lap, and will soon be driving a car. 

Kalvin is a big boy now.

The girlies are always sharing chairs.

We encourage outside play for the littles to help with the agony of waiting to open presents.

Many hands make light work. Cris and Sisi are keeping an eye on things.

This little family travels 7 hours to join us in Utah from Idaho!
So grateful these days for any celebration that includes this big guy, my oldest.

Laughter is good.

These two are always up to silliness.

My mom is always good to involve the youngsters.

My sister and niece.


  1. What a neat idea, Denise! As our family is now spread out in Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin and Florida ... I think we might have to get creative in our celebrations, as well!

    1. What is that saying? Necessity is the mother of invention? Feel free to invent your own holidays. We might end up combining Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday with Sierra's Christmas; it just depends on when she can come. I can keep a Christmas tree up until Easter, if need be!

  2. I love your idea of Thanksmas and being able to spend the holidays with family. With growing families and distances we have to get creative. I am a stickler for not putting up my tree until after Thanksgiving, but for the purpose of celebrating with family I'd make an exception!

    1. See? Even sticklers will be creative when there is a good purpose behind bending the rules. (((HUGS)))


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