Yesterday, doubts were dashed and festivity prevailed. Yesterday, you see, was Thankschristmas. My quirky family has adopted a new tradition since the little lake house entered our lives last year. Because my relatives leave for warmer winters at the end of the month, we have officially rushed the season and combined the holidays. We have invented a reason to gather and feast in the shimmering autumn of western New York. Thankschristmas is now my favorite holiday. With a gaggle of German immigrants in attendance, of course, there was a real tree. Lights, glass ornaments and a wood-shaving star on top. The table was set with vintage Christmas linens, candles, pilgrims and pumpkins. Each chair had a vintage apron, freshly pressed, draped over its back. The kitchen was resplendent with smells of the rushed seasons. I was Pavlov's dog at the site of 4 pies. The floor under the tree was massed with bags and tins, all stuffed with treasures from garages sales and thrift stores. My Aunt, the Queen of Collecting Humorous Crap, had spent countless happy hours hunting down silliness for the holiday. There were 48 packages in all. The first order of business was food. Hors' d'oeuvres', al fresco, out on the abandoned golf course just beyond the lake. Roasted tomatoes and goat cheese, pears with walnuts, dates and marscapone, cider bread with 2 Italian cheeses. We were vultures. The second order of business was food. Back at the house, dinner was heated, wine was poured, everyone donned their vintage aprons (the men looked especially chic) and the feast began. We were insatiable. Aprons had to be loosened all around. The third order of business was loot. 48 packages worth. We each took multiple turns picking from the pile, showing off our wares, stealing, bargaining and laughing 'til we cried. My Dad landed a shiny blue thong in one round, and I am the proud owner of 5 vintage paper, holiday tablecloths in original packaging. I almost gave them up for a chance at a John Deere tractor apron in green and yellow. The last order of business was food. 4 pies and real whipped cream. Mincemeat, apple, pumpkin, and peach. We were gluttonous. Finally, reluctantly, Thankschristmas came to an end. We were happy. We were full. We were thankful. Our cheeks hurt from laughing. Our invented holiday was the remedy for all ills, all worries, all doubts. All we need is good food, good company, laughter and love. Most of all, love.