Merry Thanksmas, Everyone!

Ah, Thanksmas! That time of year when people put giant blow up snowmen in their yards,  string sparkly ornaments on trees,  bake festive treats, and contribute their share to our shopping economy by reaching deeply into their wallets.  It sure is a special time of year; one special day when families get together to eat too much, play games, exchange gifts and generally just have a hoot and holler. Just the way we like it.

This year's Christmas Cave. Yes, the bar is pretty high in terms of gift wrapping at our house.

This year’s Christmas Cave. Yes, the bar is pretty high in terms of gift wrapping at our house.

That’s right, we’ve invented a new holiday that is dead useful for people who have found that celebrating the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays so close together has  become too much of a good thing. Sometimes as families grow, the burgeoning calendar of social engagements, family gatherings, and myriad expectations around the holidays begins to be more of a burden than a celebration.  It’s one thing to add new families and traditions to all the celebrating. But when you start adding other countries into the mix, as we must do in our family (since our daughter divides her time between three countries), expecting to have everyone together for the ‘holidays’ is not realistic. All that stress takes its toll on the ‘specialness’ this time of year.

When holidays are ‘too much’, it’s time to do something different. We wanted to be able to celebrate with our kids and their partners and also with my extended family without having people dividing their time between households on one specific day. Thus, Thanksmas was created. Thanksmas is celebrated after Thanksgiving, but before Christmas. And here’s the brilliant part: YOU GET TO CHOOSE YOUR OWN DAY!

Plenty of wrapping paper amusement for Boots, all day long.

Plenty of wrapping paper amusement for Boots, all day long.

On Thanksmas, you get the best of both Christmas and Thanksgiving. Okay, it’s mostly Christmas. But really, Thanksgiving is all about the food anyhow. Well, plus giving thanks, which you should be doing every day, right? So really, when you think about it, EVERY day is Thanksgiving Day…so what’s the problem with combining the holidays if it makes life less stressful for everyone?

At this point you might be asking, “So, Melissa, how do I know if it’s time for my family to combine holidays and have one big celebration filled with gifts, food, drink and games with prizes? What are my criteria? What’s my motivation here?”  Well, I’m here for you to make this easy.  Take a look at this handy  list of symptoms that may indicate an overly stressful holiday season is upon you.

  1. You consider store bought pie to be just as good as home made pie. (It’s not.)
  2. You consider a brown paper bag to be gift wrap enough. ( It’s not. Please see photo of appropriate technique above.)
  3. You’re planning to roast only a turkey breast, not the whole bird to save time and trouble.  (If you are vegetarian or vegan, just go directly to Thanksmas because you’ve already messed with tradition so you may as well go all the way.)
  4. You are starting to rely on Pillsbury sugar cookie dough and all its variations for your holiday cookies. (See item #1. If both are true…well.. you know who you are. I don’t want to embarrass you in public. Just do Thanksmas and make real cookies.)
  5. You get irritated at stores who put Christmas decor out before Halloween is even over. (I know, right? What is wrong with them?)
  6. You start reminding people that Christ wasn’t even born on Christmas Day, actually, questioning out loud 2000+ years of tradition.  (Or however many. It’s a lot.)
  7. You turn down invites to parties where you have to bring a gift because you just can’t think about that right now. (If it’s a White Elephant gift party, subtract one point because you just get to get rid of something from your closet and that’s a bonus.)
  8. Getting all of your family members to do things together at the same time is about the same level of difficulty as herding cats so you can bear to do this only once.
  9. You really look forward to that week between Christmas and New Year’s eve; you know, that time when all the stress is over and you are going to lay around in your pajamas and eat leftovers with impunity, watch bad television, and gain a lot of weight. (Why wait? You could be doing that all season!)
  10. You toy with the idea of being the only house on your street without Christmas lights and that seems a reasonable idea to you. (Really? Do you see how dark it is out there?)
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Old school Munsters Dvds. For the Rumpus room on Galapagos. . I wonder if it’s as great as I remember?

If you recognize yourself in over 3 of these symptoms, you might opt for Thanksmas in the next few years. If you have over half of them right now, well, I’m sorry you’ve missed your window of opportunity for this year. Lay low, get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and consider combining your holidays next year.

When you decide on a Thanksmas celebration, it’s a strange but freeing feeling. There are all the trappings of Christmas, some of the foods of Thanksgiving, but no one else is celebrating. It’s like your own private holiday. Then, when you are supposed to be gearing up for all the stress of the season, it’s all over and you have nothing to do but enjoy all the holiday goodness without the muss and fuss. Don’t worry. You can still put up your holiday lights, keep your tree or cave up all month, go to Christmas parties and drink too much. It’s just more leisurely because the big part is already done. Plus, all those Christmas sales where you wanted to shop for yourself in previous years but didn’t out of guilt and fear that someone else would buy the same thing for you? Guess what you get to do? Yeah. Now you get the picture.

At our house, we had a regular ‘Christmas’ morning on our Thanksmas, complete with stockings, our traditional Christmas cave, mimosas and French Breakfast Donuts for breakfast, and gift exchanges. The grandparents came, the auntie and uncle and cousin came, even some friends came over. We had a houseful of laughter and games. We sang karaoke. We ate too many cookies and pie, we drank too much champagne, we played indoor miniature golf. It was completely overwhelming.  It was great!

My collection of miniature ornaments makes perfect holiday boat decor.

My collection of miniature ornaments makes perfect holiday boat decor.

Now we get to enjoy this entire season stress free. We will go to movies, maybe a holiday performance or two, or perhaps a Messiah singalong. I have decorated Galapagos and Mike and I will spend Christmas morning there together in our new neighborhood. Thanksmas was a rousing success. We all had our day together. Now Claire and Dan can go spend Christmas with his family in Edinburgh. Andrew and Jill can do Christmas with Jill’s family. No one has to split their time on Christmas Day and travel between houses out of obligation to more than one family. Traditions are great. I think we may have started a new one.

Since I’m sorry that you missed your opportunity this year to celebrate Thanksmas, I’ll make your holiday breakfast menu a little easier for you. Here’s my recipe for French Breakfast Donuts. I’ve been making these tender and delicious muffins every Christmas morning for 34 years. They involve nutmeg, sugar and cinnamon. How can anyone go wrong with that combination?  We have mimosas and scrambled eggs with them. Mix up the dry ingredients the night before to make these easy to pop into the oven on Thanksmas morning.

French Breakfast Donuts

Preheat oven to 400F and grease a muffin tin.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 cup milk
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Sugar and cinnamon in a bowl for rolling the hot muffins. I use 1/2 cup sugar to about a tablespoon cinnamon.

Mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl whisk the milk, melted butter, and vanilla together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir with a fork just until mixed. Do not over stir or your muffins will be tough.

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes. This makes about 10 regular sized muffins.  When done, roll hot muffins in cinnamon sugar. They are extra delicious if you brush the top with melted butter before rolling them. fullsizeoutput_20c