Since the kids had this week off from school, we decided to take a mini-vacation in a hotel/indoor water park – just to spend some time together and to relax. It was fun to watch the kids forget about all of the other things going on in their lives and focus on having fun. I could just sit and watch their happy faces coming down the water slides over and over again. It never gets old.
We came home yesterday afternoon and called around to family to wish them a happy Thanksgiving. Then we invited some friends over for a glass of wine and some dessert. Overall, it was a pleasant and relaxing few days.
But the things that I saw and heard made me realize several things about Thanksgiving.
It seems to me that for many people, Thanksgiving isn’t as much about the family any more. During our mini vacation, Mrs. WhiteCoat and I were sitting by the side of the pool watching several parents who couldn’t take their eyes off of their iPhones. Not sure if they were texting, reading the news, or what, but it was readily apparent that they weren’t too interested in their kids who kept running up to them with excitement and then walking away to go hit the water slides after getting a half-smile. How many times do we hear (or say) “I’m not going to Grandma’s house this year because ‘So-and-so’ is going to be there”?
Ads for Black Friday sales permeate the media. Newspapers are full of offers for everything from the cheapest electronics to the cheapest toilet seats. Radio ads remind us to shop early and shop often. News stories show crowds of people waiting in line at the crack of dawn to be the first one to purchase the latest electronics. How many people got up at the crack of dawn to go visit a family member? Or to call a lonely relative? Ironic that some people seem to spend more time planning to buy presents for their family than they do actually spending quality time with their family.
It saddened me when I called my mother last evening and asked how her Thanksgiving had been. “I had to work because they were short-staffed at the store. When I came home, your dad was down at his office doing work. So I made myself a sandwich and am just sitting here alone watching TV.” I wished somehow that I could transport her out to our home so we could laugh and joke and play cards.
It wasn’t too long ago that Grandma WC was visiting us and sitting in my living room making stuffed animals for all of my children. I thought about when I was a child and would come to her upset. She would caress my cheek, whisper in my ear, and make all of my troubles go away. She did the same things with my kids while she was here. She still has the same loving eyes and the same smile, but her face has become weathered through the years. The caresses with arthritic fingers mean even more now than they once did. When discussing her aching joints, she casually mentioned that she was “hoping to get 10 more years out of my body.” When I was a child, I never even considered that my mother wouldn’t be there for me. It is difficult to be reminded as an adult that now our time together is limited.
Don’t know where I’m going with this whole rambling post other than to make a Thanksgiving wish. You never know when the time you have with your loved ones will end. A sudden illness, an accident, a sudden military deployment may leave you with only memories.
So stop worrying who has the cheapest iPad on sale and cherish the times with your family.
That’s what the holidays are all about.