Not Christmas. Not Thanksgiving. Pajama Friday. That is my favorite holiday. Hands down. Pajama Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and my family started celebrating it a handful of years ago. I don’t remember the exact year and I suppose it really doesn’t matter. My sons and I stay home in our pajamas all day, eat a big pancake and bacon breakfast, bake gingerbread cookies, make ornaments, decorate our Christmas tree, and crank up the Christmas tunes. “Dominic the Donkey” and “I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas” are likely our Pajama Friday anthems. I even sneak in some of my college glee club Christmas recordings, which is a lovely trip down memory lane. Add in the comfort of a fire dancing in the fireplace, and it’s pretty much a perfect day. Simple and perfect. No fuss. No pressure. Treasured time together.
I suppose in some ways Pajama Friday is a sort of Black Friday protest. I’ve never enjoyed shopping. Not one bit. So when you add in large crowds of people pushing and shoving each other to grab sale items in hot, stuffy stores…yeah, you can count me out. It always struck me as odd that we feel the need to pile into stores to buy loads of crap the day after a national holiday reflecting on all we are thankful for. Now, if you love shopping, don’t mind the crowds, and look forward to Black Fridays, more power to you. It’s just not my jam.
The real reason I started Pajama Friday has little to do with Black Friday or our national consumer rituals. The truth is that the holidays are hard for many of us, especially the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. They can be painful reminders of the loved ones we lost. I used to look forward to Thanksgiving…good food, family, and no pressure to buy presents. It was perfect, perfect until my thirty-nine year old brother passed away unexpectedly one week before Thanksgiving nine years ago. My family gathered and tried our best to get through Thanksgiving that year, the day after we buried my brother. Honestly, most of us could barely swallow more than a bite or two that day. After that, the smells, the sounds, and the foods of Thanksgiving became reminders of my brother’s death. I dreaded the damn holiday, but I didn’t want my pain to color my children’s Thanksgiving experiences for years to come. I needed a distraction; I needed something else to look forward to. Thus, Pajama Friday was born and it was perfect. Different smells, different sounds, different foods, and different rituals. More importantly, it became a day to spend quality time with my precious children. Now, Pajama Friday is my favorite holiday and, somehow, it managed to take some of the sting out of a difficult time of year. And for that, I am most thankful.