Thanksgiving Recap & A Different Sort of Holiday Bucket List
I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time believing Thanksgiving was just last week. This year, Seth and I joined my parents and siblings (all 6 of them, my two parents, plus four spouses, and a niece and a nephew) for a handful of days in the mountains of Virginia. We snuggled my tiny niece and nephew, played many board games, and spent a lot of time in the hot tub, which was especially needed after a 9+ mile hike at the start of our trip (why?!).
And for the most part, it was really good. My siblings are spread all over the US and I love getting to see them.
It’s an interesting thing to be young adults who only get to see each other once or twice a year. We share DNA and more than two and a half decades of memories, and yet I’m always surprised and so proud of how much they grow in between the times that I get to see them.
And while my family is far from perfect and we experience growing pains and changing dynamics as every family does, I’m grateful that they’re the ones I get to figure out this strange season of young adulthood with. My siblings and parents are curious and compassionate, theatrical and often verging on dramatic, passionate, hilarious, contemplative, and so much fun.
As always, my phone and camera never seemed to be on hand for much of our time together. But here’s a partial glimpse of our Thanksgiving trip:
A Different Sort of Holiday Bucket List
Before the pandemic, this time of year was relentless and a lot of fun. I would often be photographing and working all the way through the end of the year. There were holiday parties and trips and family to see and so much to do. I would tumble into the New Year exhausted, but full of stories and memories and the thrill of all that was experienced.
But the things that once ushered me into the joy and thrill of this season now leave me depleted and disconnected. My priorities and how I enjoy this time of year have shifted a lot in the last two years.
I have come to relish the quiet of this season. Where there once was pressure to fit everything in and experience all Christmas had to offer, there now lives quiet and wonder and calm. I find myself anticipating the near-silent nights in our home with my Sweet Seth - the only glow of the room coming from the Christmas tree, a big pot of soup, and a favorite movie. And sprinkled into these quiet nights are a few gatherings and nights of games and old traditions and lots of laughing with some very dear people.
It’s a different sort of holiday season from the ones past, but something that brings me the fullest, most peaceful joy and quiet anticipation that I’ve experienced yet.
What once felt fraught and full now feels welcoming and gentle (and maybe still carries a slight note of tenseness as we continue to navigate establishing our own family traditions as just the two of us - such is this season of life). But I hope that will continue to get a little easier every year.
Here’s what is on our low-bar-quiet-but-still-nostalgic-and-joyful Holiday Bucket List (we’ll keep workshopping that name);
Pick out and decorate our tree. We found a wonderful tree in the pouring rain this past Sunday - impractical and memorable. And we finished decorating it last night. (As I said, this is the low-bar-lifestyle list).
A few Christmas movie nights, made all the more special with homemade popcorn (thanks to the best stovetop popcorn maker) and hot chocolate. Seth has a lot more memories tied to Christmas movies than I do, so he usually chooses and I’m usually asleep on his shoulder 30 minutes into the move.
Walking around the Historic Oakwood neighborhood to look at the Christmas decorations. We’ve done this for a few years now and I always love it. There’s a wonderful bakery on the edge of the neighborhood we like to stop in first because every chilly walk is better with coffee and a croissant.
Mountain Getaway. Seth and I do a weekend in the mountains every fall, but my very busy photography schedule pushed it back this year. And I’m not one bit disappointed that it means we are going to enjoy a roaring fireplace and beautiful decorations. I cannot wait.
Christmas Eve. We aren’t quite sure what this will look like this year as we finalize travel plans, but right now the vision includes a service at our church, Chinese takeout, and falling asleep on the couch with a classic Christmas movie.
We may sprinkle in other things, but if this is what our holiday season looks like this year then I will be thrilled. Cheers to ever-changing Christmas cadences and a quiet and calm end to the year!
The Best Links of the Week:
This is a very clever hack for staying warm in tights.
It’s a dramatic trend, but I’m not sure I’m sold.
‘Tis the time of small talk, in which many of us (myself included) want to climb inside a hole and disappear. No fear, because we can come armed with tips to effortlessly navigate small talk this holiday season.
This was an interesting read on marriage & competition.
I’ve been wearing this coat non-stop for about a month now. And it is excellent. (Currently 30% off with the code EXTRA 30)
I’ve been dipping my toe into Christmas music with this Cozy Jazz playlist.
This show was beautiful and absolutely wrecked me. (note for Netflix: the link will take you to your log-in page before the show page)
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