They say that time is elastic — much like the pants we sometimes wear. And sometimes that elastic springs back, pinches us, and wakes us up. That’s what happened yesterday when we were surprised to find out that Thanksgiving is just two weeks away.
Maybe we’ve been distracted, eating all those mini Snickers bars that we had stockpiled for the thousands of trick or treaters we were expecting. When we went to Kohl’s buy pantyhose to wear to Sabrina’s Bat Mitzvah, we were shocked to see that they already had red and green garlands and a whole department crammed full of sparkly Christmas ornaments. The tasteful cornucopias and cute ceramic Pilgrims of Thanksgiving got trampled in the rush to Christmas. No wonder we were caught unaware.
In the global sense, time seems to be racing past us. We remember helping our kids make handprint turkeys and cardboard Pilgrim hats – even though it was almost 20 years ago. We don’t have to have a kids’ table anymore because our kids are old enough to vote. But it’s not only holidays that are rushing by. We look forward to weddings, birthdays, and family vacations for months. Then they come, we have fun, and they are gone in a flash. The memories stay with us – and all those great photos linger on Facebook – but the events slide by on the timeline of our lives into the past, alongside memories like our excitement over the moon landing and our disappointment when The Brady Brunch was taken off the air.
“Objects in the rearview mirror are closer than they appear” might explain why our memories of that yellow and lime green plaid sofa in our first apartment are so vivid, even though the sofa has been gone for years. We can’t remember where we put our car keys, but we’ll always remember our first car – a hand-me-down, light green Volkswagen bug.
Time has always had an elusive, fleeting quality to it. Time travel is the subject of hundreds of books and movies. Everyone identifies with Back to the Future, and how great Michael J. Fox was when he went back in time and met his own parents in high school.
When you are first married you don’t want to offend anyone, so you alternate holidays and families – Thanksgiving with your family, Christmas with his, or in our case, seder at our parents’ house and break-the-fast at our brother-in-law’s. Over the years, we’ve stopped keeping track and started hosting. Occasionally, we are lucky enough to be invited to someone else’s house – and we’re grateful – but the memories of where we go each year run together like the gravy onto the mashed potatoes.
Thanksgiving has been celebrated since the Pilgrims. (You remember Squanto, corn pudding, Miles Standish and all that stuff.) It became official in the midst of the Civil War, when President Lincoln decided to set aside the last Thursday in November for a “national day of Thanksgiving.” It stayed that way until 1939, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date to the fourth Thursday in the month, giving a country in the grips of the Great Depression an earlier date for turkey, Black Friday and an extra week of Christmas shopping.
Oy. Who knew that Roosevelt is to blame for the toy circulars weighing down the newspaper, the midnight openings of electronics stores, and the artificial pine trees that are lining the aisles at Rite Aid.
This is all to explain why, instead of pre-ordering an all-natural turkey, browsing the supermarket displays for an alternative to canned cranberry sauce, and calling our sister to find out what we are supposed to bring, we are sitting at the computer fooling around on our blog again. We’re not even checking holiday recipes at Epicurious.com.
We’ll have to scramble to salvage Thanksgiving, but Hanukkah won’t catch us off guard.
Drat it! We just checked and found out that Hanukkah is early this year. It starts on Saturday night, Dec. 8, a mere 16 days after Thanksgiving. We wouldn’t dream of postponing Thanksgiving until we’re ready, but we suspect that we’ll end up finagling the Jewish calendar and postponing our Hanukkah celebrations until winter break.