It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is less than 24 hours away. Unlike my wife, who plans ahead, our day of thanks always seems to blindside me. This predisposition to procrastinate probably has more to do with my hardwired male DNA than anything else. Maybe I’m spinning into a vortex of cognitive dissonance — I know that Thanksgiving is coming and everything else that follows — but I’m in some state of denial and I just don’t process the information? Even the seasonal commercials on television hawking new cars with zero percent financing and sales at all the big retailers feel like they’ve sneaked up on me. Then suddenly I see the one thing that grounds me and brings me back to reality: the ad promoting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, that transformational, unicornlike event that serves as a magical bridge from the rest of the year to what we call “the holidays.”

It’s one thing to watch the parade on TV, but one year we went to New York City and witnessed this extravaganza while standing on the sardine-packed streets as the array of floats and inflatable cartoon characters hovered above us. I remember wondering if our Toyota Sienna van was being stripped and sold for parts because I was still in shock that we found a parking lot that wasn’t in New Jersey that would charge us only $40 — a good deal in New York City. I figured there must be a catch. So, in keeping with my Christmas spirit, I figured if that happened, it would help provide reliable transportation for a worthy family. Ultimately, nothing happened, and my faith in humanity remained intact.

We’re not going to the parade this year, but instead my wife has placed the seasonal “Christmas-flavored” coffee next to our regular Costco coffee on the kitchen counter. I view this as a “leading indicator” of what’s ahead. I don’t mind. At least it means the pumpkin-flavored coffee has been laid to rest for the remainder of the year.

Of course, there are contradicting indicators as well down at work in Washington, D.C., where most of the trees are still sporting their autumn colors. Just another “holiday” disconnect confusing me even more because when I get to Frederick all the leaves have fallen off the trees.

Also, there’s my challenged memory, which seems to increasingly compress time and space as I careen toward my late 50s. It’s no wonder I take pictures of everything on my phone so I can remember things. I could’ve sworn the 2018 office Christmas party was like a month ago.

But then, just as I start to feel like the lead character in some Hitchcock film spiraling out of control, I remember the one stabilizing constant that helps me keep it all in perspective — togetherness — my family, friends and some downtime. We’ll slow down, be more mindful of those less fortunate and lend a helping hand where we can. We’ll remember our common values regardless of political affiliation as we revel with cold beer, glasses of wine and warm conversation. After all, these are the real gifts that the holidays bring.

Nelson Ginebra embraces unconventional wisdom, likes TV commercials more than the actual shows and writes from Myersville. Email him at ideaguy99@gmail.com

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