This just isn’t my time of year! Even though I’ve lived here in Amer­i­ca for near­ly 41 years and been mar­ried to the same per­son for all that time, this is still not ‘my’ hol­i­day. You see, I spent our first wed­ding anniver­sary (yes, we were mar­ried on Novem­ber 25th because my hus­band thought it would be won­der­ful to be mar­ried on the same day as his par­ents — lit­tle did I know!) and my first Thanks­giv­ing away from my hus­band. He had work oblig­a­tions and since he then worked for an Eng­lish com­pa­ny they had no con­cept of what Thanks­giv­ing meant as an Amer­i­can hol­i­day.

My par­ents were here with us and the three of us went to Key West, also with no idea of what Thanks­giv­ing meant. If I tell you that we had our ‘tra­di­tion­al’ Thanks­giv­ing meal at a Howard John­son’s restau­rant my Amer­i­can read­ers will under­stand what the meal was like! If you under­stand the tra­di­tions of an Eng­lish Christ­mas for the years when I grew up and before I left Eng­land in the ear­ly 1970s, this Amer­i­can ‘turkey din­ner’ was­n’t any­thing like ours.

So for many of the last 40 years (this year I was off the hook!) I’ve cooked Thanks­giv­ing din­ner and turkey the Amer­i­can way in lat­er Novem­ber and by Christ­mas I’m cook­ing anoth­er turkey my way! It is real­ly over­whelm­ing.

The ‘hol­i­days’ in Amer­i­ca, from Labor Day (first Mon­day in Sep­tem­ber) onwards, are too much — espe­cial­ly when Christ­mas starts in the shops and with TV adver­tis­ing in mid-Novem­ber, or some­times ear­li­er. Hard­ly is one ‘hol­i­day’ over and done with and anoth­er rears its ugly head, but most espe­cial­ly the mate­ri­al­ism of Christ­mas. I think even Han­nukah has become more mate­ri­al­is­tic. Chil­dren used to receive nom­i­nal gifts for the eight days of Han­nukah but I’m sure that’s increased to keep pace with the excess of Christ­mas giv­ing.

So for me what was a gen­tle wind up to Christ­mas with time to think about and look for lit­tle but mean­ing­ful (!) things you might buy your fam­i­ly there is the exhaus­tion of Hal­loween and the long Thanks­giv­ing week­end (with the unend­ing games of col­lege foot­ball!), fol­lowed by a very short Christ­mas Day (only) hol­i­day, after which many Christ­mas trees are dis­card­ed out on the road ready for pick­up!

I like my Christ­mas to start slow­ly with a few Christ­mas gath­er­ings (that don’t involve present giv­ing) to get fes­tive and then per­haps dur­ing the week before Christ­mas set­ting up the tree (it’s been the same small and plas­tic one most years since our old­est son was a year old and mobile). Per­haps I’d have bought a small real tree if any had been avail­able — noth­ing under six foot tall seemed avail­able; not for­get­ting a real tree cost about as much as I’d nor­mal­ly spend on Christ­mas itself! Today I saw liv­ing ‘table top’ Christ­mas trees for the first time!

This isn’t a fes­tive time of year for me. Amer­i­can Thanks­giv­ing has spoiled my Christ­mas, just as I guess Christ­mas spoils Han­nukah for many Jew­ish fam­i­lies.

Just my umpteenth Thanks­giv­ing sea­son rant! I can’t ever be an Amer­i­can!