It is Thanksgiving, and I’m sitting in my living room, watching the afternoon light as it starts to fade away from the day.
My apartment is dark and quiet. In my kitchen, there is no turkey waiting to be carved. In the oven, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole are nowhere to be found. There are no rolls, mashed potatoes, or canned cranberries set out in serving bowls. The seats at my kitchen table are empty, leaving the surrounding space devoid of the low din of happy conversation that normally comes with the holidays. There is nothing happening here that even remotely resembles the nostalgic way Thanksgiving always used to feel to me as I was growing up: rich, full, and abundant.
The only thing here is me, curled up underneath a blanket in the corner of my couch, drinking a cup of tea, staring up at the twinkling lights of my Christmas tree, thinking about how it’s Thanksgiving afternoon, I’m alone, and there is no pie.
It is a combination that has the potential to end poorly.
But as I look up at those tiny, white lights, my thoughts thankfully drift to something else.
* * *
My daughter, Zoey, and I are standing in the airport, waiting for my parents to arrive for a weekend visit. It’s the Friday before Thanksgiving and Zoey is a bundle of energy. Eager and anxious, she hops from one foot to the next, circles around my legs, and then darts around a few of the people standing next to us.
“Hey!” I call out loud enough to catch her attention. I motion to Zoey to come back toward me. “You have to stay close.”
Zoey walks back my way, and when she reaches my side, I pick her 40-lb frame up and rest it on my hip. Zoey tells me she can’t see anything, so I try to hoist her higher.
“I don’t see them,” she calls down.
“I just got a text. They’re just about to get on the train,” I tell her. “They’ll be here any minute.”
Zoey’s wiggling and squirming in my arms, and I’m afraid I’ll drop her. But before I tell her to quit moving, I look up at her, and for a brief moment, I feel time stop.
Her chin is tilted up, her eyes are shining, and her smile is wide. Excitement and anticipation are painted heavily, almost as if by broad brushstrokes, upon each one of Zoey’s delicate features. In this moment, her face is exquisitely beautiful and lovely and hopeful. Since I want it to stay that way for as long as possible, I keep quiet.
After a minute passes, Zoey finally looks down my way. And although I can’t hear the words she speaks because of the loud crowd that now surrounds us, I know exactly what she’s saying:
“I’m so excited.”
It is just another regular, ordinary day—November 17 to be exact—but if you asked Zoey right now what today was, she’d tell you it was the best day ever.
She’d tell you it was a day that felt just like Christmas.
* * *
It is Thanksgiving, and although November 17 has come and gone, my parents’ visit is over, and Zoey has left for the day, I’m sitting here in the dark, thinking about that look on Zoey’s face as she waited for them to arrive a week earlier.
This look stayed on her face for the handful of days they were here visiting. It was there when the four of us decorated my apartment for Christmas together. It was there this morning when she woke up, and as I sit here and think about it a bit more, I realize it’s a look she wears on her face every single day.
Because to Zoey, I really think that every day—even every moment—feels like a holiday to her. Every day seems to hold something to look forward to. Every day seems to hold endless wonder and abundant awe and eternal gratitude. She doesn’t wait for one day to be the cause for celebration: She celebrates every day because she knows there’s something wonderful and exciting to be found inside it—no matter what form that comes in.
And this is why earlier this morning, as we feasted on muffins and bacon and hash browns as we watched all three hours of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Zoey declared the day as her most favorite Thanksgiving ever.
She didn’t need a traditional dinner or a huge group of people in her home or a big slice of pie to make that possible: She had all makings of the perfect holiday in the moments we shared together earlier.
So, although she is not with me as I sit here in the dark alone on Thanksgiving, her spirit is still here—just like it always is—reminding me that the only thing I should be feeling right now is nothing but endless gratitude for what I have instead of feeling sad for what I do not.
And suddenly, that abundance I thought was missing this afternoon is all at once here: the feast of love that was here this morning still lingers, tucked away in the safe places of my soul, and for that I am grateful.
As I think of Zoey’s sweet face one last time for the day, I raise my eyes to those twinkling lights, and I begin to give thanks.
Because if we do it right, every day can hold celebration-inducing, holiday-inspired moments.
Perhaps they happen as you decorate your Christmas tree on a warm day in the middle of November. Maybe they occur when you’re handed a plate full of turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes as you’re surrounded by the people you love. Or maybe they appear as you eat a Thanksgiving morning breakfast, watching an age-old parade, knowing this may become a beloved family tradition. They may even light upon you as you sit on your couch, enjoying a cup of tea in a quiet, introspective moment.
And you may feel like you’re anticipating the arrival of a holiday as you look forward to seeing the people in your life that keep your heart alive. Because sometimes, the holidays can even be in found in the form of two people you’ve loved your whole life stepping off an escalator in a crowded airport, and watching your daughter trample over anything in her way in an effort to jump into her grandparents’ outstretched, eager arms.
* * *
“I see them!” Zoey squeals as she squeezes my shoulder. I quickly set Zoey down, and then there she goes, tumbling through the crowd, slinking her way through a sea of people. When the three of them finally find each other, and as I watch Zoey’s little arms wrap around my parents so hard the wind has to be knocked out of them, I notice that I, too, am having a hard time catching my breath.
When I find it again, I make my way to them and step into the small circle they’ve created. And together, as our grateful hearts join in celebration of this moment, we embrace each other and this sweet reminder that the holidays are present in our lives every single day.
Because even though it’s November 17th, it really does feel like Christmas.
Let me know: How do you find holidays in the everyday?
Corey is a writer, graphic designer, and mom to her amazing daughter, Zoey. Here at The Nostalgia Diaries, her goal is to simplify, enhance, and engage people’s lives by helping them focus on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.
Just joining me on my journey? Catch up on the Everyday Nostalgia series here.
At The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.