The day before Thanksgiving each year, I’m always a little nervous. This is partly because I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to have enough time to take a week off of work if my hours somehow get reduced for a week, and partly because I enjoy Thanksgiving – a place of time-free, family get-togethers that are completely devoid of any stress or struggle.
The day after, things get a little more complicated, because the magic of Thanksgiving no longer applies. There is much more anxiousness than excitement. I’m increasingly aware that this is a holiday that I don’t deserve. I am getting older, less competent, and still unable to enjoy the feelings of wholeness that one gets from a weekly get-together (aside from guilt), plus I am learning to behave around my girlfriend’s mother. All of these things make me really conflicted about the holiday, and I am now re-discovering that I am spoiled – just like so many people.
No wonder I would like to be able to finish writing a book about how Thanksgiving so often feels more like a hustle, more like a chore, rather than a treat. I can’t even begin to explain how much Thanksgiving is taken away from me by this game that we play between us – being out-scammed, manipulated, pressured, lied to, held hostage for a few days each year. However, I do want to tell you how difficult it is for me to find someone who understands the tremendous unfairness of this, even though, honestly, I’m trying my hardest. It’s really hard to feel grateful when you have to feel guilty, victimized, and humiliated. Not all of these feelings are bad, and not all of them have to be extreme. Just that they happen to me, when I really need them to disappear.
The blogger at Zūbe estimates that 99% of her readers have no idea that they are doing the exact same thing, or worse, that she has been doing for months. So Zūbe takes what might be the easiest way to travel to another holiday, and makes her own version. She organizes them in her car. She takes on the awkward role of the innocent travelling dummy. She lives in the moment.
My favorite Thanksgiving transportation trend? A reading list for friends’ Pinterest pages Read more
The practical (or maybe it’s selfish) problem for me is that, since I am missing Thanksgiving now, I can’t even pretend to be grateful. Let’s be honest, the turkey is on the menu, and while that makes me feel warm and fuzzy, I also feel resentful. My girlfriend’s mother has taken up every inch of space in my lifetime, and now my holiday will have been stolen. It’s also upsetting to know that my work schedule for this month will be drastically reduced for a week, when I should be working hard, not on Thanksgiving, and that my long, difficult journey to “normal” is now over.
I think most of us already feel guilty, even if we think we aren’t, but we barely notice. I hope that if my experience helped you to see the darker sides of holidays, then maybe you’ll get it too.
At the end of the day, Thanksgiving is a place of warm embrace, a time when people are willing to give up their reputations, influence, and money in order to bond with each other. Sometimes, as in most holidays, the world can seem like a cruel place. For so many people, this Thanksgiving, they will feel exhausted, uncomfortable, and even terrified. I hope they will look around at everyone in this room, and see our humor, our love, and our generosity.
And remember that it’s okay, just this once, to go ahead and say “thank you”. It’s the day that means so much to many. Let us at least live up to our agreements for our peace, let us take responsibility for our part in perpetuating this world’s injustices.