Written by Annie Laskey, Events Director, Pasadena Senior Center
This past Thanksgiving weekend, I had one of the most pleasant and relaxed four-day weekends I can remember. Last time I planned a “staycation,” I was wound up with so much anxiety that I had trouble decompressing. Not so this time. I think the secret was not planning anything at all.
First, I have to confess that unlike most people I know, I wasn’t worried about Thanksgiving Day itself. I didn’t have to work (moment of silence for the Senior Center’s Thanksgiving Luncheon, alas on hiatus until 2021), and Thanksgiving was never a particularly important holiday for my family anyway. I didn’t even settle on what to make for dinner until the night before (we had Butternut Squash soup, Corned Beef, and Almond Custard pie, in case you were wondering. And Champagne, of course).
My main nod to Thanksgiving was to make the delightfully silly Oreo cookie turkeys that Girl Scout Julia demonstrated for us at the Center’s Virtual Halloween Party. You use candy corn for the tail feathers, and mini-marshmallows for the eyes. The sugar rush from eating one of those babies will last you until next Thanksgiving!
As for the rest of the weekend, I miraculously had no Zoom commitments from 2pm Thursday to 9am Monday. I think that is the longest stretch I’ve gone without logging into a Zoom call since May. I love how Zoom connects our world; that I can just as easily chat with someone in London as I can with my next-door neighbor, but to take time off was rejuvenating.
And it wasn’t just Zoom. Pretty much the whole country was on vacation too, so there was remarkably little conversation going on. After a flurry of emails and texts on Thursday morning from well-wishers who read Steve Lopez’ nice column in the LA Times about the Senior Center, my mobile phone fell silent: almost no dinging for text alerts, ringtone for calls, chimes for emails. I had never noticed before how communication goes quiet over Thanksgiving weekend. Of course, in past years I’ve been busy like everyone else – visiting, shopping, exploring.
With no meetings, classes, or lectures on the calendar, I didn’t have to worry about what I needed to do or what I was going to miss. What a luxury to just sit outside in the sun and read a book! To stroll in the evening under the nearly-full Autumn moon! And even to spend a bunch of hours going through boxes of dusty old papers in the garage with Dad.
Sorting (and throwing out!) miscellaneous stuff is soul-warming. By the end of a few hours, we had discarded a full barrel of assorted school papers, travel brochures, theatre programs, and whatnot. It was a blast. We shared memories of events and travels, enjoyed old postcards, and laughed at photos of short shorts from the 70s and big hair from the 80s. Yes, I totally recommend cleaning the garage as a great holiday weekend activity. In fact, I think I’ll make it my new annual Thanksgiving tradition.