Thanksgiving: the good, the bad, the ugly

I haven’t been a fan of the holiday season since my teenage years. My cousins stopped coming, large family gatherings turned into splintered immediate family affairs, and it became just me, my mom, and grandparents for many years (which was pretty much every day anyway). I would try to make it festive in the beginning, but until M came along, I found them to be lonely and depressing occasions. I have a kid now, so Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July… they are fun again! But Thanksgiving? Eh… not so much.

Just like last year, I didn’t find much to look forward about a day full of work (I don’t like cooking, I don’t like doing dishes) with a toddler underfoot. She is particularly restless and antsy at my grandma’s house, where there is junk everywhere and she’s not allowed to touch anything, so she gets yelled “NO!” at a lot, which is no fun for anyone. She helped here and there with cooking, but at age 2 she’s not exactly speeding the process up.

By the time the feast had been prepared, I was cranky. Thank all the gods for our dear family friend and my grandma’s caregiver who not only helped me with everything all day, but who also remained calm and patient and good company. She saved my sanity, that’s for sure. It was my mom’s 59th birthday, and M enjoyed helping me bake her peach pie, wrap her presents, and I think also like singing happy birthday and blowing out candles. But my mom took off with her new boyfriend without eating any of the pie (the first one I’ve ever made from scratch, by the way).

M escaped the house from time to time, as it is again unseasonably warm outside, and by the end of the day she was so desperate for something to do that she ended up mud puddle splashing in bare feet. And I let her. After a quick shower, we headed into town. Yes, on Thanksgiving day, I was desperate enough to take my kid to the mall. I know shopping is bad on Thanksgiving and all, but it was just me a this kid who really, really wanted to go somewhere. I was game. Toys ‘R Us was open, and we spent like an hour and a half “playing” inside. M tried out all the power wheels cars and jeeps (gotta find one of these on craigslist for her birthday!), played with giant foam dinosaurs, carried a pirate sword around for quite some time, rode a tricycle around the aisles, and just had a blast. We left the store without buying anything and she didn’t even ask to!

She fell asleep in the car and I transferred her into bed seamlessly, so here I am enjoying some wine by the glow of the Christmas tree. One thing I can’t stop thinking is… this is going to be one of our last Thanksgivings  doing it the traditional way. It’s always been Thanksgiving dinner at my grandma’s, but this may be her last year (she’s terribly frail and ill). After she’s gone, I won’t be doing this anymore. Maybe we’ll travel for the holidays. Maybe we’ll live in Nepal and hold an expat Thanksgiving. Maybe we’ll live in Nepal and come home and visit friends and family for the holidays. I don’t know… but it’s not going to be this way forever. While it may be a bit sad, I’m actually relieved. I didn’t really enjoy today, I just wanted my grandma to feel like she had a nice Thanksgiving. I think that she did. But as a single mom, without any family to gather with, once my grandparents are gone, we’ll be doing things differently. That’ll be ok with me.

Author: Mother of All Things

Mother by fostering, adoption, and marriage... wife to my best friend... Bay area critical care nurse... travel in my blood, reading in my bones, clean food on my mind!

6 thoughts on “Thanksgiving: the good, the bad, the ugly”

  1. Just wow that you made an awesome looking pie and your mom didn’t eat any! My dad’s gf was drama today. What is with our parents? I’m sorry to hear your grandma is not doing well. It’s good she had a good day. My grandma is up to 103lbs due to steroids but is on oxygen all the time. She is looking the best I’ve seen her in years.

  2. I always worked thanksgiving and Christmas Eve when I worked at the group home. It was so much easier. They needed a good time and I didn’t have any kids and my family annoyed me. I’ve struggled with a VERY TRADITIONAL in law family since my marriage/having G. It’s just not me, but very them. I don’t put stock in specific days of the year. Or rather I’d prefer to accomplish something with my day that isn’t 10 hours of movies/cooking. A hike would be nice. 5k perhaps. Hopefully someday we find a happy medium.

  3. I think this pressure for the “perfect” holiday that fits a traditional, conventional standards is unreasonable and potentially hurtful for a lot of people whose families don’t match that commercial vision. I am a fan of making your own traditions, and adventures!

  4. The best part our holidays is how far we live from any family members that I would feel obligated to spend time with. I have a girlfriend (also too far away to see, sadly) who celebrates “anti-Thanksgiving” with Chinese food with her kids every year. It’s their own tradition! I’m sorry this may be your last year with your grandma, but you guys will have a great time doing your own thing, however it ends up looking.

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