I started this the day before Thanksgiving and couldn’t get it done. It is the day after Thanksgiving and it is now done. Sort of as if the Turkey never got thawed in time and you had to cook it the next day so here goes:
Part of the ritual of the holidays has always, to me, been the obligatory question. “What are you doing for …? I had this question posed to me for the day in which we give thanks. I do not go out on Thanksgiving, except for a meeting sometimes. This is a personal choice that I make and have grown to enjoy. I have a personal reason for this which is not subject to discussion. It is not a decision to be xenophobic, or tempestuous, or anything other than just a guy that wishes solitude and relaxation.
The person who posed this question was not satisfied with my explanation. They also did not offer me an alternative. They just called me Scrooge and hung up the phone. I found that phone call rather disturbing and felt that it required a response. It might have been easier to simply dial the number back and let the individual experience the extent to which I have developed a vocabulary that focused on the vulgar, uncouth, ill-mannered, offensive, improper, and pretentious words of the English language. I did not make that choice, choosing instead to share my feelings on the conversation in word and offer it to the millions and billions of those I wish read my blog.
In the first place my errantly obnoxious friend, if you are going to insult me in a loving way that I am sure you intended, get the damn holiday right. Thanksgiving is the day that we celebrate a fictional dinner with Native Americans which most probably was actually the initiation of the genocide we perpetrated on them over the next few centuries.
Thanksgiving has always meant many things to many people. There is the television commercial version where the cooking channels all tell you multifarious methods to produce the sleep inducing element that is tryptophan. A claim used as an explanation for excess and gluttony while really being just an urban legend at best. According to http://www.medicaldaily.com, “Tryptophan in turkey does not induce a food coma; you’re sleepy because you ate too much.” This is reinforced, according to Google, by 7,510,000 other websites.
There is the Thanksgiving that exists in the world where the humorist and jester ply their trade with such bits as; “The whole holiday is absurd. It is an enigma how much we can misread the spirit of things and dread the day. Nothing is more ridiculous than a large family gathering for Thanksgiving and someone gets mad at Uncle Sid the alcoholic when he gets drunk and hits on his portly sister-in-law or Great Paw Paw Archie for not remembering some kids name in a crowd when he is 94 and hasn’t had a lucid moment or uttered a rational word in twenty years. They get up and leave in a huff even though Cousin Paula’s apple pie is the best, and Aunt Helen’s stuffing is to die for!”
Then there is the Thanksgiving where millions of people decide that they must leave the comfort and warmth of their safe homes and travel long distances to get mad at Great Paw Paw Archie and end up eating at a Denny’s after they walk out in a huff. They do not think of the consequences until they are faced with the fact that they flew to the upper peninsula of Michigan and it decided to snow the day before Thanksgiving…and they live in Texas and do not have a clue what snow chains are, or that they are in the trunk of the rental car they got at the airport.
All of this sounds as if I am, indeed, a Scrooge. I am not! I know the spirit of the holiday, and how my gratitude works. I had one of my oldest friend come to my house with a package made by his girlfriend a foot high jam packed with food, enough to last me the weekend. A single man’s delight! I went to an evening meeting where we talked about one of the main principles of the Twelve Step program I am a member…the desire to stop using drugs and alcohol.
I realized that after twenty years, I still have that desire. Well, perhaps not the desire to stop as much as stay stopped. I shared with good friends the wonder of life in recovery and they shared with me. It was much better hearing gratitude that way than in the contrived way that is forced on one when grace is said at a Thanksgiving sit down dinner and they go around the table and everyone has to come up with what they are grateful for. Gratitude is an action and not a platitude!
I am not the jolliest of souls at the holidays and never have. This has to do with situations in my life and how I handled or mishandled them. Today I look for the joy in things and am honest enough to admit when I am not joyful. I have no desire to spread hate or discontent but also do not wish to express contrived emotions simply because it is “better to see the up side of things.” I am a pragmatist and do not suffer insincerity. I love many people but not everyone I know is included in the list of folks I fancy. My God and Creator commands me to love everyone and, I also believe, that he is patient until I am fully on board with this mandate. A work in progress as they say. I will leave you now with a few thoughts:
While that work is progressing, it is my aspiration to see everyone be as happy, joyous, and free as they can possibly be.
Don’t ask me how Thanksgiving was…tell me how it was for you.
Do be as wonderful as you can be.
Please allow me to be as grouchy as I am…it is a natural state for me and I like it.
See the good in others.
See the good in you.
Eat ‘till you puke.
Turkey sandwiches must be made with rye bread, mayonnaise, a spoonful of dressing, salt and pepper, and a bit of jellied cranberry sauce on top.