I am Grateful for You & Many other Things—but I do Not like this Holiday.
Greetings and salutations! I am the Turkey-Day Grinch.
Please do not take this to mean that I am not grateful. I am. I am glad to be alive, glad to be healing, learning, and growing. Glad to be the grandmother of a beautiful bright being, glad to have a warm bed, a sweet if precocious fur-pal (my cat, Odin), glad to be close to my mom, and glad I have at least a handful of good friends.
I am grateful and I am grumpy.
Historically, and frequently, Thanksgiving has been a shitty day. Last year some things came to my attention (through both behavioral observations and stories of revelations) that were deeply disturbing to me and those events continue to unfold to this day.
Was it the holiday’s fault? No, but there have been too many Thanksgivings in my past where I, myself, experienced similar situations: drunken, inconsiderate, belligerent significant others, and random forays into territories better left unexplored.
Then there is grief… over what? I can’t put my finger on it, specifically.
Maybe it is that I didn’t grow up in a family with traditions. I remember my step-mom cooking, all of us eating, and then dad and the kids absconding to the movie theater so as not to even have to help clean up. Sometimes I stayed behind because as the “other” female in the family, I felt guilty about my step-mom doing it all by herself.
The food is okay, in my opinion. I’m not a huge turkey-lover, mashed potatoes are cool (better as potato pancakes), sweet potatoes and marshmallows—mmm! Stuffing, green beans, blah, blah… I do make a mean pumpkin pie, though, from scratch. I fill the pumpkin cauldron with heavy cream, brown sugar, and spices and bake it right in the oven like that. Even people who do not like pumpkin pie love mine!
Even as people gather and proclaim their gratitude something lurks beneath the surface and I cannot quite put my finger on it. Maybe it is the Shadow of gratitude, maybe it is knowing that millions of people will flock to “Black Friday” sales the following day. Maybe it is my over-sensitivity to the throngs of people who feel alienated from their family, who will go and sit with people who habitually hurt their hearts out of obligation. If you are among those then I invite you not to go.
Don’t force yourself into a situation that is painful for you. Don’t feel obligated to sit at a table with people who do not value you, understand you, or who have caused you deep psychological damage.
I know there is a core of family health, wealth, and warmth to this holiday and every other, but there is something else, too. There is something performative and gluttonous that steals over the dinner table and there is often something volatile that has been stuffed into the hall closet with the all the guest’s coats. And often as the drinks go down it will creep out.
If you love your family and feel safe with them—I am happy for you. If you love the food—enjoy!
If you have a meal on the table and a roof over your head then you are in better circumstances than the majority of the planet’s population and that is, indeed, something to be grateful for.
And I am grateful for you, even if we have never met.
As you read my words, we touch something that is bigger than both of us for even my stress and distrust is full of care. This is me expressing how I am continuing to try to care, even when I am down, even when I am stressed, flustered, sad or even depressed.
This is me being genuine in my care and not pretending that all is well just because the calendar says, “Gather and feast!” Maybe it is well, maybe not. Maybe it is a little better today than yesterday or less stressful, sad, and lonely than tomorrow and maybe it is more.
However it goes, we are never alone, even when lonely. And we can always connect to something greater, more real, more true every time we listen to our hearts.
Thank you for taking good care of yourselves and each other.
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Image 1: Dayne Topkin
Image 2: Priscilla Dupreez
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