But as I sit in Starbucks having just finished a venti (that's right--the big guy) Peppermint Mocha, I have some news. Christmas music is playing here. And a Christmas tree was erected a few weeks ago on Broad Street (one of the two main thoroughfares--if you can call a street that isn't open for through traffic a thoroughfare). And these two facts (among others--like the fact that 4500 miles from Delhi--not to be confused with 45,000 miles from Dehli, as I would call it--started its Christmas menu on November 15th) has led me to a conclusion.
That my mother would love it here? (Yes, that's true. No, it's not the conclusion that I have come to.)
The conclusion that I have come to--the epiphany that I have had, if you will (After all, epiphanies are a dime a dozen when you drink a venti-anything at Starbucks. But again, more on that later.)--is that without Thanksgiving, England doesn't know when to start celebrating Christmas. (It's ok to gasp with astonishment at the implications of that realization. I understand.)
It's true though. Take it from me. I come from a household where I think there is the equivalent of a New Year's countdown leading up to the dawn of Thanksgiving day (at least in the head of my mother). No, she doesn't love turkey that much. (After all, what is there to love about turkey? In preparation for a Thanksgiving feast for 100 that I am helping to plan today, we concluded that the turkey doesn't even have to be well cooked. In fact, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce are all concessions that the turkey will be dry. And even if it's not--no one can tell, because it is covered in so much stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce.) So, if it isn't the turkey, what is it? Well, my friend. Thanksgiving is the day when it becomes 'acceptable' to listen to Christmas music.
On that third Thursday of the month of November, my mom's step is lighter, her smile is brighter (as if that's possible), and life is just grand because Manheim Steamroller can return. Sandi Patty can grace us with gracious festive music (Ok, that's a joke. My mom doesn't listen to Sandi Patty. Anymore.) Josh Groban is officially the man. (Like there's a time when he's NOT the man?!).
Our family has semi-sporadic Thanksgiving traditions. Sometimes we are home, sometimes we are at one or the other grandmother's/grandparent's houses. But whether we are cooking cornish hens, or riding in the Camry (shout-out dad for being committed to joining the 200,000 mile club), there is one constant--the music of sleigh-bells and chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
And the other constant is probably my bad attitude about it. I really don't dislike Christmas music that much (in fact, I would listen to Mariah Carey sing Christmas music all year round...and do.), but it has almost become part of the Thanksgiving tradition for me to get as far away from the 'away in a manger' music as possible.
So, Christmas is already in full-swing in Oxford. And if I am going to faithfully play my roll, I have to eye-roll and tell you it is a travesty. England needs to throw some tea in the English Channel, declare independence from itself, and come up with a holiday of thanks and over-eating so that they can have a starting point for the Christmas festivities.
There, I have done my duty. I have played my part.
But, if I am to be honest with you, Christmas is here in Oxford and I am loving it. My mother's enthusiasm for the season is pursuing me across the ocean. I will thank of my family (both formal and informal) throughout the season and be thankful. I am thankful to have 24 years of happy Thanksgiving and Christmas memories (with four Thanksgivings with basketball family and one with my Rhodes family).
Thanksgiving will come and go this year and I will probably hardly even recognize it (because I will spend it at a black tie awards dinner). So, do me a favor. If you are reading this on the other side of the Atlantic, next time you see my parents, give them an extra hug for me--and roll your eyes in front of my mom when you hear Christmas music fire up on Thursday. Even if you love it, pretend like you don't.