Well, faithful blog followers, Thanksgiving is over but the fun has just begun. Soon people will be trampling each other for Christmas deals and ringing in the New Year with booze and a stomach pump. I’m sure on this Thanksgiving, everyone had a wonderfully glutinous holiday filled with 3000+ calories. I, however, did not. Holidays are not always a family time or an eat-your-heart-out-time; as in, they haven’t always been and they don’t have to be. For me, growing up with just my father after my mother left us and moved across the country, the holidays were much different. They were about understanding the actual meaning behind the holidays – something less than 25% of Americans reportedly do. They were about relaxing and having a day that we didn’t have any other obligations. It has never been about stuffing our faces. Sometimes we did things with the family, but other times it was too snowy or we just felt like hanging out and watching movies. This was the general idea behind almost everything my dad and I did: we did what we wanted or what we could and we did not allow ourselves to feel obligated to participate in pastimes that were about as meaningless as the stuffing being shoveled down people’s gullets.
Since moving to California, my holidays have not been much different; and in fact, I have grown more contemptuous of the holidays as the years have gone on. So much of them now are about doing what is expected of you, rather than what will truly make you happy. So much of them is about how much money you can spend as well – buy this, spend on that, get in line for the big deals! And to me it seems that in recent years the addition of the family element has gotten out of control – as if the meaning of holidays is actually to spend time with family. As if people cannot have holidays if they are not in a large, family unit.
This morning when I woke up, I saw Facebook status after Facebook status, and thousands of Tweets, all about what people are thankful for, and how important family is to this holiday. It seems that people have ignored, though, the two important events that brought about this holiday: the pilgrims leaving behind their families and settling in a new country; and the Civil War breaking families apart in the name of a greater cause. Some people on Twitter claimed themselves to be the moral authority on what Thanksgiving means (which they were most certainly wrong about); another person still on Facebook said her family was “chosen by God to be the best family in this blessed world.” Christianity was folded in as well, with the bizarre idea that Thanksgiving is now a Christian holiday and that the Christian way is to be with your family – both ideas that are unambiguously false.
Thanksgiving (as with most holidays) do involve family in many cases, but they are not about them; nor is it wrong if huge family gatherings are just not your thing.
This is something that took me a long time to accept and come to terms with, mainly because I had other people shoving down my throat what they thought I was supposed to believe, rather than what I did. Like many, I even let them convince me that is what I wanted and what made me happy – and yet somehow, I couldn’t understand why at the end of every big family event I felt completely exhausted – both physically as well as mentally. But then earlier this year, I resolved to do what I want for the holidays again and appreciate them for what they truly are – because after all, that is what I always learned was the right thing to do.
For Thanksgiving this year, I didn’t really feel like spending my time discussing mundane life updates and hearing all about the bowel movements of the men at the table (something my family and in-laws discuss regularly over the main course). In a time when life has been overwhelmingly tumultuous and underwhelmingly intellectually stimulating, I really just wanted to relax and have a day that I could do what I wanted to do. So, faithful blog followers, here is my holiday in photos:
I woke up and checked my Facebook, Twitter, and the blogs I read every day. I’ve already shared with you the annoyances of Facebook and Twitter, but what was wildly entertaining (and confusing) were two images that showed up on the blogs I read. One was a spray-painted turkey, the other was a cow giving birth to a pig. That’s right… a cow … giving birth … to a pig.
In deference to those that have fallen for the sake of this country (I’m talking about the Native Americans), I made those silly headpieces you make in 1st grade.
As I mentioned, I couldn’t bring myself to go to any big family feeding fests this year. Not only was I uninterested in another event of blasse conversation, I just didn’t want to eat that much. I don’t dictate my life around food as a lot of people seem to now; in fact, I didn’t even really want turkey this year. So we went out to lunch instead and (while everyone else had turkey), I had a glass of wine, a cup of soup, and a nice salad. There was no need to unbuckle my pants at the end of the meal, and I felt good about myself for making a healthy choice.
The final step of the day was to go see The Muppets. It was a great movie – probably the best I have seen this year. I have a soft spot for The Muppets and the new movie hit it. The theater was relatively empty as well, which was awesome. Now that I am home and in pajamas, I’m going to curl up with my book (“When Neitzsche Wept”) and read probably into the early hours of the morning.
I’m overwhelmingly glad that my friends and family are in my life – I am not unthankful for them at all. I am thankful for my book club, for the roof over my head, for my wonderful Apple products, for my staunch sense of independence, and for the education I have received. But I also don’t need a day to remind me that I am (or need to express that I am) thankful of all of that. I think my day was just as awesome as the next guy’s, and for this I am thankful as well. People don’t need to look at a day out and about, eating salads and hanging out relatively alone as something to pity or look down upon. It was a good day, filled with exactly what I wanted to do.
The bottom line is this: if people want to spend their time on Thanksgiving with family, without family, in line at Best Buy, at home eating Chinese take-out – it is theirs for the choosing. The one thing I cannot stand is people that say their way is the right way. I’ve got news for you, it’s far from it. Happy Holidays, everyone: whatever you choose to do for them.