Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Thanks Giving Dad

It's Thanksgiving morning and I'm sitting in our darkened kitchen, watching the sky turn from dark gray to pinks and oranges and wispy stretches of blue, and everyone else in the house is sleeping. We rarely get mornings like this, because Chunk is an early riser, and fairly vocal about his 5 a.m. needs, regardless of the hopes and desires of his exhausted parents in the next room.

It's customary, I suppose, to talk about the things we're thankful for on Thanksgiving. At the same time, I think it's also kind of cheesy, more like something you'd do on a sitcom, sitting between Lenny and Squiggy, waiting for the gravy boat that never seems to make it to your cramped spot at the table. But, since becoming a dad, I have learned I'm all about the cheese and if I can take it up another notch into full-fledged cheesy, darnit, that's what I'm going to do.

So, on this Thanksgiving morning, after a little reflection and no coffee, I have to say that what I am most thankful for is getting the holidays back.

I can be a pretty cynical guy. My raving orations about the pollution of the holidays, their loss of meaning, and the unnecessary expenses of ritual, are all legendary. And, like several of my Grandfather's stories, repeated a little too often, but I've noticed that fatherhood has taken a little of the air out of my cynical tires. And, as much as I'm still disturbed by seeing Christmas lights going up the day after Halloween, a part of me can't help but get excited about the coming holiday season.

Chunk is an inquisitive kid. The phrase he repeats most often is "Whassthat?" as he points, his voice getting more high pitched as his excitement rises. It's not just spectacle that insights this kind of reaction. Mini pumpkins do it. Unusual cars. Foods that he hasn't seen or eaten before. And, Superman. He knows full well who Superman is, Chunk might be his biggest fan, but our little guy gets so excited when he sees anything with a big "S" on it that he can't help himself. Frankly, it can get a little annoying at times, but its also a constant reminder of how new the world is, how there are so many things that his young eyes have never seen before, that he has never contemplated.

In a lot of ways, the holidays are all about newness. Yes, I know there are some important religious and cultural reasons for them and those reasons are the core of why we celebrate, but I also think that embedded within all of our different faith-based celebrations, our social customs, and even our calendar, the last few weeks of December are also about the hope of what is to come, along with our celebrations about what we already have. I have forgotten a lot of that, so outraged by the way our culture has turned family tradition into commerce, but with Chunk, I'm reminded of the more simple aspects. This year, it's not the about mall crowds, the Black Friday sales, or finding the perfect wrapping paper. It's about the anticipation of laying on the floor with my son, Christmas morning, and playing with the new trains that Santa has assured me that Chunk will begetting this year.

As much as I love Thanksgiving, and I do love it, I always thought rattling off the things you're thankful for was kind of goofy. This year, if someone asks me, I have an answer. I'm thankful for how my son has made the holidays new again for me.

Enjoy the holidays, everyone! Denver Dad is back!

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