Ahhhhhhh….Thanksgiving. A wonderful day of family and great food, wistful memories of over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go… The turkey, the pumpkin pie, the togetherness, the love… Blah Blah Blah (insert severe record scratching halt here).
Thanksgiving has always been a source of discord for many of us. As a kid, I really did enjoy it. Mostly because I was off school and could go out and play with my dog for FOUR WHOLE DAYS IN A ROW. There were good smells in the house, my mom and her mom were in the kitchen cooking and dinner was served promptly at 2:00 so that everyone could sit down and watch Dallas and Washington play football by 4:00. I had no worries, no real opinions (except that I loved Dallas and hated Washington and my brother being just the opposite would try to make me cry for fun) and there was no other controversy that was apparent to me. I mean, I’m sure there was, I was just young enough to be clueless to it. WHAT.A.BLESSING.
I think the reason so many of us get tired of “adulting” is because the veil is pulled back somewhere along the way and even our memories are questionable, lost in some shuffle of what we thought was happening and the reality of what was probably going on. And then there is the true reality of our own lives and those in them. So many of us, especially this year, are making choices based on beliefs and what should be our right to exist, or having those choices made for us as families make it very clear that we are not welcome.
Since Thanksgiving has almost always been a source of angst for me aside from those early childhood days, these past couple of years have provided me with a sense of relief almost. One I spent alone, another visited a friend briefly.
See, Thanksgiving is not really about giving thanks to me. We should be doing that everyday in some manner or another. To our god(s), to those we love, to the universe, to our own selves for caring about our own souls. Thanksgiving has equated for years to me as the gluttony of the First World. Only to be followed up quickly by Black Friday, a sure fire reminder that things in this country must not be all that bad for some of the people that say they are all bad given that they can trample other folks at Walmart and fight over big screen TVs like angry bears at the salmon run.
As I “became” who I am I grew to hate the tradition of the dead bird and the feeling of having eaten enough for five hungry children. In high school I did a hunger strike for Thanksgiving that resulted in severe dinner discord, with me quoting Bob Geldof and causing my father to almost throw the mashed potatoes at me. Yes, I was a born activist and have always been a real pain in the ass. When I was in college I would pray for it to snow (hard to believe) so that I’d be stuck away from it all. In young adulthood, it was a given that I would be the one to travel home, since I was single and I guess had nothing better to do. One year, I simply refused. THAT went over well. Being in relationships further complicated matters. Being in relationships that involved kids complicated them even more. The Thanksgiving/Christmas season became six weeks of complete chaos and squabble, as everyone around me made their plays for who would be at what house when. Every year I would sit there and think about how nice it would be to just eat vegan mac and cheese in the basement.
I’m not going for oh woe is me – don’t think that for a minute. I’m simply pointing out one person’s ludicrous experiences with “American Tradition” and why I think this day is a bunch of hooey.
See, I’m actually extremely happy that Thanksgiving dinner is off my plate. As is Christmas dinner. It is a relief. I have no good memories of them aside from those early childhood, foggy, half-truths that sustained me until my eyes were open to the world. I know that many of my friends are heartbroken this year, as we all navigate through dinner as the latest thing to be held over the heads of those of us who dare to live as who we really are. Those that are doing so should be ashamed. They actually should be denied the company of people that are so loving, awesome and radical. The people of the New World that I so wish existed right now. Remember in your hearts my friends that YOU are the future. I am thankful for you.
Today I will thank my dad with a nice meal because he is coming over to help me split some firewood for the winter. I will light a candle this evening and give thanks to many – my neighbor who climbed on the barn roof with me yesterday and made some repairs that just might last me through the winter, my brother who did some work on my pump house over the weekend in prep for the season to come, my friends (mostly far away – I can’t touch any of you and I wish I could) who keep me sane and make me know on a daily basis that I’m not alone in this world, my animal companions, my place in the world, the moon that is so damn bright here. Then I will sleep well, knowing that I have made a choice about this day that finally stems from within ME. And I plan to make the same manner of choice for the remainder of my days.