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November 26, 2010

Reflections on Thanksgiving

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , — llcall @ 8:17 am

If I’ve learned one thing over the past 3o-some years of life, it’s that saying you don’t like Thanksgiving is about equivalent to admitting you sell drugs to kids or steal wheelchairs from the disabled.  There’s just no easy way to break it to people, and many seem deeply disturbed by such an admission, so I usually avoid the topic altogether.  But I’m emboldened by my friend Emily’s latest blog post to come right out and admit that Thanksgiving — as defined by the traditions that most people hold so dear — is just not my thing.  Never has been, never will be.

Thanksgiving of 2003, lovingly known in my nuclear family as “Thanksgiving, Enchilada-Style,” is really the only one that evokes any strong sentimentality.  It was shortly after I had moved back to Washington, D.C. and I was having a really crummy time with some particular upheaval.  My third move in 3 months left me renting one room in a condo with a cat (I also dislike cats, but I probably shouldn’t elaborate now or you’ll all decide I’m a horrible, horrible person; suffice it to say, I am terribly allergic to cats, so it was a difficult experience living with one) in Reston, VA, which, if you know the area, made my daily commute downtown ridiculous.  Things were just rough.  But at the last minute, my lovely parents and brother hopped a plane to D.C., got a killer deal on a Residence Inn suite, and humored me with a delicious dinner of enchiladas, refried beans, and corn (they are not people who dream of refried beans for Thanksgiving, so it was a nice gesture).

I know most of my family thinks that it’s the particular food that spoils it for me, and it’s true that I don’t care much for turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, et al.  But it’s much more the inordinate amount of prep time that makes me anxious.  Cooking is not a fun family activity for me, and it’s not even really possible when you’re helping to corral a couple of crawling babies and a very energetic toddler (I’m at my parents’ house this year with no Neal to assist).  One of the things I liked best about our Thanksgiving, Enchilada-Style was just how much time we spent together with no hours-long feast preparation.  We played games, we talked, we spent the entire day in the same room, all together.  We just chilled.

Luckily, I found a Thanksgiving kindred spirit in Neal.  He actually likes the meal, but he likes complete solitude more, so while I’m in California, he spent the day holed up alone.  (Apparently watching the “Punkin Chunkin,” which is most definitely not what I left him in Utah to do, but whatever.)  We have the same stories from our days in D.C., being invited to myriad Thanksgiving celebrations by kind (very kind, I’m not dissing these heartfelt offers in any way) people, only to be faced with puzzled looks when we explained that we wanted to spend the day alone.

Neal and I made a decision today that we’re just not going to be a family that does the typical Thanksgiving thing.  My aunt has a tradition of camping over Thanksgiving; maybe we’ll do that too.  Maybe we’ll try a different type of food each year; I’ve already done Mexican and Japanese.  Maybe we’ll grab a couple of burritos at Taco Bell and watch a movie.  Maybe we’ll be grateful for things, or maybe we won’t.  Suddenly it feels like the sky’s the limit!

And I’m thankful for that.

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7 Comments »

  1. I am so glad I could help you admit your feelings. Admitting it is the hardest part. Letting the world know how evil you are. I applaud you on your attempts to set new thanksgiving free traditions. Sadly not only did I marry a traditionalist, but I my baby Mae is in LOVE with mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie so I think I am in it for the long haul. Luckily I got off easier then Krista. This year she caved and went to the Tobler family thanksgiving, where they all gather around in the livingroom and stare at each other. They dont really have anything to say, so there are really long and awkard pauses. My husband dubed it the, “Circle of Stare.” This is just one reason why we will never live in Utah.

    Comment by Emily Larkin — November 26, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

  2. Oh gosh! I don’t really like Thanksgiving either. I realized this this year and then decided that maybe I was a selfish person who needed to give in… so I did. And then I was unhappy. We have had 2 of our 3 thanksgiving meals and I have spent way too much time on food prep! Our next one is on Saturday and we are serving tamales that we just bought! yummy… and left-overs from the thanksgiving meal number 2.

    Comment by Rachel — November 27, 2010 @ 2:31 am

  3. So, how do you weigh in on what I posted on your Facebook page after Liesl questioned your proclaimed Thanksgiving hate (in lower case, of course)? Please tell me that was not a wasted post! Does anything there resonate?
    History, memories, family & friends…

    Comment by Lorie — November 27, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

    • Of course, it was not a wasted post…I learned that you have very strong feelings for Thanksgiving! As for me, history, memories, family, and friends all resonate strongly with me, but not so much in connection to Thanksgiving. Neal and I are excited to find our own traditions that will feel more comfortable and organic for us.

      Comment by llcall — November 28, 2010 @ 6:25 am

  4. Funny you should post…as we were driving home today from our annual Thanksgiving camping trip…”Joseph, our new adventure may require a change in our family tradition…not sure I like that!?” So, for the record…Thanksgiving Day 2010 was spent…camping in MS along the Natchez Trace, grilled steak/hamburgers/hotdogs and bonding as a family and with Joseph’s brother and wife [that joined us, having come from Savannah, GA]. Bonfire, S’mores and total BONDAGE! Ahhhhhhh…..

    Comment by holly — November 29, 2010 @ 4:11 am

  5. I may have mentioned in Sunday School today how I hate Thanksgiving and think it’s one of the worst holidays. Come to find out, you were right: apparently that little gem should be kept to one’s self. Luckily, it was only in front of a small class. 🙂

    Comment by Elizabeth — November 29, 2010 @ 6:36 am

  6. You are pretty much apostate, girl. Can’t deny it. 😉 I spent a very traditional Thanksgiving in country music capital, American flag raising, really thick accent–Nashville. Can’t get any more traditional than dat.

    Comment by Audrey — November 30, 2010 @ 2:39 am


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