When I was a young kid, I stumbled across the black-and-white 1947 movie, Miracle on 34th Street, starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, and a young Natalie Wood. My parents weren’t home and instead of watching football late on a Sunday afternoon, I started watching the movie. I fell in love with the plot right away, watching the real Kris Kringle step in for a rough-around-the-edges department store Santa before the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Kris goes onto battle the New York City court system to show everyone the real meaning of Christmas.
Who doesn’t love a movie like that?
The kickoff to the holidays
With the movie still fresh in my mind, I got up early several days later to watch the real Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The movie gave the parade, one of the oldest in the U.S., newfound perspective in my eyes.
I loved watching all the different floats, balloons, and high school marching bands. My favorite part of the parade, of course, was the Snoopy balloon, with him dressed as a flying ace, and, yes, when Santa made his big arrival at the end of the parade.
I didn’t care much for all the different entertainers mugging for the camera and singing the latest pop or Broadway songs. In the grand scheme of things though, I didn’t mind. I was in my pajamas, off from school for the next few days, with nothing ahead of me, but turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie, an afternoon of football, and down-time with my family.
I was in heaven.
The makings of a tradition
From those beginnings, sitting down to watch the parade on TV, as strange as it sounds, became a tradition. I’ve watched over the years with my wife. As our kids came along, I watched with them. Some years, I got up extra early to make pancakes and cut-up some fruit. When my wife wasn’t looking, the kids and I would be sure to load up the pancakes with rich chocolate chips and whipped cream. (Shh, I don’t think my wife quite ever caught onto our little game.) Other years, it’s been simple toast and, maybe, cereal.
It’s been less about the parade or the food and more about the tradition of just being together before we sit down for our Thanksgiving Dinner and the craziness of the Christmas season begins. It’s been a chance to remember the real reason we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas and to enjoy each other’s company.
When I watch the parade today though, there will be one small change. Okay, it’s a big change. My daughter and oldest son will be far away. In fact, they’ll be thousands of miles away. This will be the first major holiday, Thanksgiving or Christmas, where we’re not all together for the holiday. When we gather together, instead of five, it will just be the three of us — my wife and our youngest son.
Oh, I’m sure we’ll video chat at some point in the day, but their absence — from lying half-awake on the couch with the parade on in the background or even later in the day sitting around the dinner table with extended family to say grace and enjoy Thanksgiving — will still be felt nonetheless.
I’ll miss them.
Oh yes, I’ll miss my kids dearly, but I’m excited for them too. They may not be able to come home and we may not be able to visit them this year, but they’re making their own new traditions. They’re making their own memories and I’m thankful that we’ll all be together again in the future.
When the parade rolls through NYC it will just be three of us, but who knows, maybe we’ll start a new tradition this year. You never know. In any event, I’m grateful for all the times we’ve gotten to share in the past and for our many family and friends.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!