Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
My family is really widespread, so for as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving was just the four of us, Mom, Dad, Anne, and I. I remember one Thanksgiving when I was around 9 or so, some friends joined us, and had to watch their soaps crammed around the small desk area in my dad’s office, because football was the only thing that was going to be allowed on the living room TV. Another year when I was a teenager, my cousin Christina came for dinner, because she was a student at a college about 45 minutes away, and wasn’t going home for Thanksgiving.
Things changed in 1997. That year, I was living on my own and didn’t have a car. My sister was going to come pick me up and take me to our parents’ house for dinner. For some reason it ended up that she couldn’t come get me. She and my mom and I traded calls, and my mom said she’d come get me (an hour round trip) as soon as the turkey was in. I was getting stuff together to be ready, when she called back. My dad had gotten mad that plans were being changed around, and he canceled Thanksgiving. Yup, you heard me. Canceled. Thanksgiving. At about 11 am Thanksgiving morning.
My best friend Erica was getting married the following Saturday, and I was heading to her house the next day to help get things ready. I called her in tears, and her mother, and mother-in-law (to be) told her to go get me and bring me there to share their Thanksgiving, but it was too far (a 5 hour round trip). So then I called my friend Dan. He picked me up, and took me to the singles Thanksgiving dinner at my church. That’s right. I spent Thanksgiving at church, with a bunch of people I didn’t know. (it wasn’t all bad, as it was there that I met a woman who would eventually pay me a lot of money to stay at her house with her kids when she went away on business trips and who sold me my second car).
The next year, I was living in Merced, and went with Erica to her parents’ place instead of going home. Turkey Day 1999 I was with my family I think. Thanksgiving 2000 was the year that Grandpa (Erica’s grandfather) died, so I was in Oregon the week before Thanksgiving, and home with my family for the actual day. 2001 and 2002, I was with Erica’s family, and it was about this point that Anne threw a fit, saying Thanksgiving was a family day, and she was tired of me not being around. I said it was because of the year dad cancelled Thanksgiving. And she told me to get over it because it was a long time ago. So I spent 2003 with my family, at Anne’s house.
The reason I don’t celebrate with my family when given a choice is not because I am still angry seven years later. It’s because I feel like if my dad could just “cancel” it like that, it obviously wasn’t that important to him. Spending it with Erica’s family feels like being with family to me. We’ve been best friends for 19 years, and her whole family has adopted me, and they love me like I really was a blood relative. There are aunts and uncles and cousins and grandkids all over the place, and it feels like the way it should be.
This year I’ll be spending the day with friends. Anne is working 9-5 today, her in-laws are eating at a restaurant because they’re moving and can’t cook a big meal, and my mom just doesn’t feel like cooking. People seem to think I’m strange because I’m okay with that. Thanksgiving just isn’t my family day. Now, try to keep me from my family for at least part of Christmas, and I might have to hurt you.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!