Holidays have become all kinds of tricky. I think my country might be in the throes of a morality tsunami – a big, wet, whirlwind of different ideas that turn into passionate beliefs, and are tossed around willy-nilly until nothing resembles what it should and everyone is left bedraggled, uncertainly self-righteous (is there any other kind of self-righteous? just a thought), and really pissed off. I’m not even talking about consumerism (which, let’s be honest, is a condition that affects me acutely and pervasively); just the very notion of celebrating a holiday has become an issue of What You Believe In, What You Support, How You Really Feel, and Who You Really Are. Christmas isn’t really the birth of Christ, New Year’s isn’t really the new year, Thanksgiving honors the horrendous ruining of Native American culture and lifestyle, honoring your religion now, apparently, means making a political statement, and don’t even get me started on the hoopla I’ve heard that says Halloween is Christian.
So, yeah, there’s some sort of morality tsunami going on here. I think my coping mechanism has been to just call the holidays by their name, and continue to celebrate them for the reasons that live in my soul. I’ve never been great with history; I love stories, and as such, love much about history, but in terms of taking their stories personally (ie, thinking all Jews should avoid tattoos because of the Holocaust, or not celebrating Thanksgiving because of what the settlers did to Native Americans), I’ve never been really strict with myself, or others. I tend to think that bad choices (whether yours, others, or history’s) have a way of sitting with your soul no matter what you do or don’t do to honor their memory, and usually try to keep memorials for things that bring me warmth and kindness.
Anyway, my family loves Thanksgiving. My parents always shared this holiday with my dad’s college roommate, CC (abbrevs for privacy whatnots), which means the tradition started before I was born – possibly before my parents had gotten married. Every year, we meet at one of the houses (for several decades, it was either my parents’ house or CC’s family’s house – BUT two years ago, I made the rotation!!!!!), drink wine on and off for several days, cook, laugh, debate aggressively, and then go our merry ways. It has always, without question, been everyone’s favorite holiday. Think about that, for a bit. There are five from my family, five from theirs; ten people who all unanimously and every year believe that this holiday is their favorite. Ten people from two; ten individuals who make their own choices, have their own preferences, feel their own feelings, who all love Thanksgiving.
I used to think I just loved all the food. I mean, I do. Love all the food. Come on. My mom makes everything taste like a fucking five star, seven course, meal, even if it’s potato chips from a bag. And it’s not because she’s my mom – it’s because she literally and every single time makes food taste better than it should. Truth; she’s a culinary genius.
But, I realized that, while Mom’s food is awesome, the meal is, and always has been, made by everyone. So it wasn’t just Mom being amazeballs in the kitchen. When we all sat around the table this year, I found myself looking around at everyone and remembering all the things we’d been through, on our own and then, via this holiday, together. We are such a varied crowd; our experiences mean we should have ample reason to not get along, to disapprove and disdain, to distance ourselves from each other. But we don’t. We have differences, and we just don’t care. Everything is always open table; our talks range from politics to parenting to procrastinating, and it is all discussed aggressively and lengthily. We go through shitty things during the year, and we bring them to the table, and all of it just seems to make the table that much fuller, that much more colorful. I think the food tastes better every year.
I think my holidays are mostly about family. There’s so much about that word that is widely accepted – family you choose, family you don’t choose…But either way, the holidays that I make sure to celebrate every year always involve my family. Even if I can’t be with them on that precise day, I still have to celebrate it, because if I don’t, it feels like I am not appreciating everything that relationship has given me. (oh noes I HAVE to celebrate, life is soooo hard.) Thanksgiving is my favorite because every year, I get to remember that I don’t feel the distinction between family I choose and family I don’t choose. It’s just family.