My daughter and her husband live out of state, but arrived a few days after Halloween to attend a friend’s wedding. It wasn’t practical to visit again for Thanksgiving, so we agreed to visit separately for the holidays this year.
Then my daughter’s in-laws had a great idea. Why not eat your Thanksgiving dinner early so out-of-towners can share in the celebration while they’re here?
So we all gathered for Thanksgiving on the first Sunday of November, marking the big day almost three weeks before it officially hit the calendar. It felt strange to use my late mother’s handwritten cornbread dressing recipe when there were still jack-o-lanterns on the neighbor’s porch. However, I immediately felt motivated. If you live in Louisiana, great dining opportunities are quickly appreciated.
My daughter’s in-laws graciously hosted the early morning gathering, prepared the usual turkey and fillet menu, and planning Thanksgiving on November 5th paid special dividends. The morning after our feast, no one felt obligated to wake up early for the Black Friday sale.
We couldn’t jumpstart Thanksgiving to be fashionable, but bringing the holiday early seems to be a trend. In 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that more families were planning early Thanksgiving meals to avoid the travel traffic jams that plague those traveling from far away. Airfares are cheaper outside of the typical Thanksgiving travel period, and airports are usually easier to manage. Industry sources told the Journal that grocers are noticing more families planning an early Thanksgiving. Holiday groceries like pumpkin pie can also be cheaper if you’re an early riser.
What do early Thanksgiving celebrators do when the official day approaches? For some early risers, the standard holiday is simply relaxing, with the stress of preparation and planning now in the rearview mirror. It may take some time.
As we celebrated Thanksgiving earlier this year, we realized that we don’t need the calendar’s permission to enjoy simple pleasures and good times. That lesson was brought home to me one summer when my son, still in elementary school, begged for pumpkin pie for the holidays. He’s always loved Thanksgiving dessert, but he didn’t want to wait until November for it.
I couldn’t find a reason to say no, so I went to the supermarket to get the necessary ingredients and made a pie for dinner. Eating pumpkin pie in July felt weird at first, but I managed it.
But clearly there’s something to be said for celebrating holidays when others do. Sharing celebrations on the same day helps remind us of the greater community right around us.
That’s why, despite having an early Thanksgiving this year, our family will be having another Thanksgiving this Thursday on official Turkey Day.
In an anxious world, setting aside at least a day to express gratitude isn’t such a bad idea.
Email Danny Heitman at firstname.lastname@example.org.