Thanksgiving has always been a very special day to me. Once upon a time when I was very young, our still intact family would often host family gatherings at our house with my mom and dad and other relatives cooking up a great feast for everyone. It always included the obligatory dead turkey, of course, which I thought was fantastic back in the day, knowing nothing of animal farming and slaughter. All the trimmings were equally delicious and filling: the stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, green beans, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie. All amazingly delicious and providing a walloping, huge number of calories for the day and a weight gain of several pounds over the week or so to follow, with the leftovers being gorged on almost as gluttonously as when they were fresh on the T-Day table.
Later on, when our dad left the family home to let his extramarital love life off its marital leash, my younger brother Tom and I would go along with our dad to his family’s T-Day gatherings, without our mom, which always was a great sadness to me and to her. I preferred, of course, to stay with her and help her out with the meal and eat her great cooking with just our little family, but minus dad, which was a sad point of its own. Still, the Autumn and its golds and brown and orange tones and the great aromas and food associated with it all are fond and nostalgic memories for me. But always associated with heartache and guilt, too.
There’s something about an obligatory day of feasting with loved ones that is bittersweet in its effects on people. Sometimes, in the infamous stereotypical scenarios, family members who only see each other on such holidays or at funerals get into bitter fights over being sort of forced into each others’ company. People who probably love, but do not like each other, and hold grudges or simply cannot tolerate watching the other party eating, how they dress, whatever, can explode with usually ignored emotions when feeling obligated to “be merry and enjoy required fun with loved ones.” And there’s boisterous cousin Floyd dressed like a peacock and double dipping his drooled-on chips, or whatever, and the bickering begins.
I don’t remember any such hate-filled brawls from T-Day or other holiday gatherings with my families, just the occasional small spat over the last turkey leg or last piece of pie or complaints of way too much of this or that ruining some dish or other. Perhaps a political argument on occasion. Nothing major. We loved eating too much to engage in any family brawls while downing tasty foods. Punching, kicking and wrestling, after screaming matches leave no other recourse…well, that interrupts eating time, and who needs that? We saved our fighting for more appropriate times, like when one unfortunate one got stuck washing a towering pile of dishes on regular nights. Nothing like a hoarse-voiced screaming rage fest while doing a sink ridiculously full of crusty, greasy dishes by hand. Ah, I remember those well. But I won’t say who the “guilt party” was, except to say it wasn’t me. (I didn’t wash dishes all that often, which probably explains some of the anger in those unmentioned.)
Anyhow, these days it’s just me and my brother who get together on Thanksgiving, since the rest of our close family has passed on to whatever comes after this life. I could go to vegan T-Day gatherings or other “showy” get-togethers, but I truly prefer to spend the day at my brother’s house with our dogs, to eat whatever we feel like, always delicious. No dead bird, of course, and no stuffing our guts to bursting and having to wear stretch clothes for weeks to come. Just enjoying tasty, mostly healthy foods, but more than usual, and going our for a long walk with the dogs later on. That’s my idea of a perfect Thanksgiving. Might seem sad or pathetic to “normal” people who cannot imagine being bereft of the big gatherings on these days, but it’s just right to me.
Someday if I have NO family left, I too will likely be attending vegan holiday gatherings…but only when it’s truly necessary. It’s possible I won’t feel bad at all about simply ignoring holidays and spending them without any human company, but time will tell.
This is probably boring reading for some, if read at all, but I just wrote this off the cuff because it needed writing, for my reasons alone. I hope it helps someone out there who feels pressured on holidays to get with the program, even if they have no way to do so. That is all.
Have a happy Thanksgiving in whatever way you choose to observe it…or not. Just be grateful for every good thing in your life, as those good things may not be yours for much longer, with the possible changeover in the running of our great nation in January. Now, with the “covid restrictions” being spouted by states’ democratic governors, we’re getting a taste of what they want our lives to be like. It’s not good. And that needs to be firmly rejected. Gather all you want, with whomever you want, and don’t ruin your nice times by obeying wanna-be tyrants with their bizarre lists of what you are to do and not to do. Jeez.