A warm and fuzzy thanksgiving

A warm and fuzzy thanksgiving

Originally published November 2009

When I picked up my 3rd-grade son from school earlier this week I asked the question I’ve asked nearly every afternoon since he could talk in complete sentences, “How was your day?” Although he CAN speak in complete sentences, that doesn’t mean that he always DOES so. Most of the time, his answer to this question is a monosyllabic, “fine.” On this particular day, however, he was unusually chatty, providing me rich details of his day of matriculation. He was also peppering me with seemingly random questions. “Daddy, how many friends do you think you had in middle school?” “Do you think adults use less than ten percent of their imagination?”

After that random Q&A our conversation turned to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. His nonstop banter paused for just a second and then he said, “Why do I feel all warm inside when I think about Thanksgiving.” I probed a little about the “warm feeling” he described and he told me that he also feels it when it’s cold and snowy outside and we’re all inside our house, all four of us, watching a movie or playing a board game.

Now, I don’t know the science behind that warm and fuzzy feeling; but I know exactly what my son was describing and it sure seems like we get those waves of emotions, or surges of chemicals to the brain, or whatever they are, more during the holiday season than any other time of year. Thanksgiving is primetime for the warm fuzzies. Many of us get to enjoy four-whole days away from work and school. Some will host extended family and others travel near or far to be with those they love the most.

Thanksgiving is primarily a holiday celebrated on the home front. We Americans love our restaurants; but the significant majority of us eat our Thanksgiving meal at home. According to the National Restaurant Association, only one in ten Americans eat their Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant.

It is interesting to note that all of the warm-fuzzy experiences my son described to me were home-based. There was no mention of trips to Disney World or Chuck E. Cheese and spending time with his friends wasn’t on the list either. The warm fuzzies seem to be quarantined within the walls of our home or the home of a couple members of our extended family.

There’s further evidence that the warm fuzzies are not location-based but rather people-based. My parents’ current residence is a house in which I have never lived. My childhood home, in fact, was torn down years ago to make room for a strip mall. When we spend the holidays with my parents, I wake up in a strange bed in a strange house but get an immediate case of the warm fuzzies when I realize where I am – with my wife and children and my parents.

Next week we’ll be traveling to Dayton, Ohio to spend Thanksgiving with my wife’s sister and her family. They built a house this year so this will be the first Thanksgiving in their new home. I can almost guarantee that they brought the warm fuzzies with them from the old place.  

I realize that not everyone gets to experience the love of hearth and home around the holidays. Strained family relationships can be heightened during the holidays. Nothing throws cold water on the warm fuzzies like Uncle Sal getting drunk and punching Uncle Mike. For some, the forecast calls for the cold pricklies.

I’m glad my son feels loved and secure and that family time brings about the warm fuzzies. I hope that will always be the case. If the warm fuzzies have become more difficult for you to find, try looking extra hard for them this Thanksgiving. They’re probably there somewhere, maybe playing cards with the dust bunnies under the bed.

Break out the chopsticks (recipe for ginger-hoisin chicken)

Break out the chopsticks (recipe for ginger-hoisin chicken)

Short ribs braised in red wine

Short ribs braised in red wine