“I hate Thanksgiving…”
I thought I had muttered but as so often is the case, especially around my daughter, I had not. My eyes flicked to the rearview mirror and I met two large eyes staring back at me that were not my own. She looked uneasy. I flashed a bright smile. Her expression didn’t change. Oh, !#@& here it comes…
“Why do you hate it?”
My mind tumbled down the rabbit hole for a moment. Do I share the truth? Do I regale her with memories of family dinners past and the constant fear of abuse and familial meltdowns that erupted? How the taste of turkey reminded me of those moments yet I still choked it down to please others when sitting at a Thanksgiving meal? Do I try and sound hopeful and share that the first turkey dinner I really enjoyed on a Thanksgiving was one with complete strangers in a restaurant in my early thirties?
No, because a kid doesn’t need to hear any of that. I stuck to the academics.
“Because it’s a holiday celebrating the destruction of our ancestors and an excuse for advertisers to push their products while guilting people into visiting relatives they don’t like or feeling bad that they can’t see them that day.”
She nodded sagely and looked out the window solemnly, “Oh! Riiiiight,…like “Columbus Day”.”
I LOVE this kid…
“Do you think our other family feels that way?”
“Which other family?”
I could barely hear her voice,
“The ones that don’t want to meet us.”
My mouth went dry. I struggled to keep my voice even. “Those people don’t deserve to meet you. They’re broken and sad. It’s not your fault that they act that way.”
I internally patted myself on the back. My eyes glanced up and she was trying to reach as far as she could in her booster to hand me a tissue.
Our troubles are so often like cooked pasta left forgotten to congeal. It isn’t going to be fixed by removing just one piece. You have to decide if you’re ok with putting the effort into salvaging the meal or throwing the lot of it out.
My troubles as of late seem more like a dangerously bad gravy; smooth on the surface but full of jarring lumps and burnt on the bottom.
Everything about the holiday pissed me off. Mostly the inaccurate misrepresentation of history and the glorification of the genocide inflicted on Native Americans but, honestly, the obligation to pretend that you’re in a happy family with complete strangers ranked pretty close behind that.
Allow me to list my favorites to dislike: (In tribute to Letterman’s “Top Ten”.)
10. A parade that’s a huge advertisement for big box stores televised with the worst announcers that were needy for the spotlight between the morning news and their B-string slot on the sports casts that have no idea most people are watching them, if at all, on mute until the giant inflatable floats go by or the lip syncing musicians come on.
9. The parade announcers.
8. Putting your arm inside the turkey.
7. The pressure to cook that specific meal that you don’t like every time you’re at the grocery store. (No, I won’t cook a turkey! It’s called “chicken”, it’s easier to cook and it tastes better. The next time someone expects a cooked turkey from me I’m going to serve up a carved ham in the form of a cooked turkey wrapped in bacon.)
6. The constant reminders everywhere you go that it’s a time for “family” yet many of us would prefer, or need, to be with the one of our choosing or have no choice but to be apart from ours on that day.
5. The guilt trips. I don’t NEED to convince you I’m “thankful”! That should occur every day and doesn’t need to be forced onto people, especially children, in the form of a rainbow hand shaped paper turkey.
4. My kids have food allergies. Have you tried making vegan gluten free rolls? Enough said. It’s like a dusty, soggy rock of a lie in your mouth.
3. Televised sports. Suck it.
2. The expectation to host people that hate you the other 364 days a year that can’t bother to care about you for even one of the rest of them.
And, number one…
The perpetuation of the myth that the “holiday” is a benign expression of thankfulness. If that were true, then please take the pilgrim hat out of the holiday and instead send notes of thanks and gratitude to each other.
Which is what I send to everyone and anyone reading this. Let’s be thankful for those we love and those that are able to be near us that love us as well. If not on the holiday, then on every other day because what a world it could be if we did. Gobble, gobble.