I don’t enjoy celebrating most holidays. They aren’t really holidays anymore – just treacly Hallmark imitations of the celebrations they once were.
Part of my resistance is societal – a rebellion against Hallmark and Christmas radio stations – but part of it is familial. As children we are subjected to the whims of our family’s traditions with little room for our own opinions. When i hit college i decided i’d start having things my way – i rebuilt my holiday schedule from scratch.
I usually deign to observe a standard July 4th, since it holds historical significance, and Cinco de Mayo, since it kicks off my Corona-drinking season, but everything else is fair game; one particularly defiant year I celebrated Passover instead of Easter.
However, I haven’t fucked with any holiday as much as today’s – Thanksgiving – because i didn’t really feel as though i had been giving very much thanks. It had turned into Turkeyhaving and Footballwatching or, worse, LaststopbeforeChristmasing.
Rather than touch any of that, i co-opted it for my own, never doing the same thing twice. Once i carried a balloon in the parade. Another year i dined with Gina and her family and friends. Two years ago i spent Thanksgiving alone, drinking martinis and watching old movies. Each iteration was superior to the alternative of a dead bird and getting stuffed just to get stuffed.
Over the last nearly-five years i have been gradually assimilated into Elise’s family, which dichotomizes every holiday between a split set of parents (a phenomenon with which i am all-too familiar). I am now an expected guest at their holiday celebrations and, as a result, here i am in NJ celebrating a second Thanksgiving in a row for the first time since the nineties.
At first i was reticent – this was exactly what i had been trying to escape! Yet, the view, the culture, the traditions, the food, and the thanks are all different here than what i gew up with. Admittedly, I don’t like them all – i was especially upset to realize that not every family in America accompanies every holiday turkey or ham with lasagna or baked ziti – but in total they have definitely refreshed my thanks… thanks for who i am, and where i am, and that i am free to choose both and everything in between.
I think holidays should be what you need them to be, especially a holiday about thanks. And sometimes the best way to realize why (if at all) you are thankful is change your perspective.