Could it be a national food addiction problem that leads us to eat and eat and eat until we're in pain on the day when we're supposed to be giving thanks for something? Maybe we spend a few minutes during grace focusing on what we're grateful for AND THEN WE EAT. Why? Maybe the Thanksgiving binge happens because of a collective sense of guilt for all the things we have while the rest of the planet is dying for those things (food, water, shelter). Maybe it happens because we're avoiding recognizing how starved we are for real meaning in our jobs, true intimacy in our relationships and a solid sense of our place in the world. Maybe we stuff ourselves so we'll be too preoccupied with digestion to consider the painful irony of our fat bellies and our empty souls.
Usually at this time of the year I'm sadly trying to find a place to spend Thanksgiving dinner. My yuletide tradition is angling for invitations to holiday celebrations, hoping my familied friends will notice that I have no place to go. They often don't notice or don't have the resources to invite me. I often invite myself over ("David, are you and your wife going to be having Thanksgiving in town this year? If you are, can I come over again?").
This is the first holiday season in years that I'm not doing that. This is the first Thanksgiving in my life that I will be cooking for a man. Just the two of us. To the sound of football, I'll toil in the kitchen over turkey, yams, stuffing and broccoli (I love broccoli) while he falls asleep in front of the tv. When he asks if he can do anything, I'll say, "No. Just sit down and watch the game. Do you want a beer?" I'm a 40-year-old spinster and I have never in my life prepared a Thanksgiving meal for the man I love. He never existed before. Finally he does.
So I declare a new Thanksgiving tradition for myself: cooking dinner for the man I love while he watches the game. It's isolated, it's selfish, it's stereotyped, it's dull -- and it's brand new for me.
Disappointing? Probably. I should remember where I was a year ago and throw open my doors to anyone I can think of who might need a place to celebrate our national force-feeding. But I'm not. In the same way that lonely people are disgusted by public displays of affection until we finally have a partner with whom to indulge in those displays, I used to press my nose against the windows of people with Thanksgiving loved ones but am now happy to have my own loved one with whom to draw the curtain. Maybe it's human nature to witness people's full, loving lives and feel certain no one should be allowed such happiness, until we finally touch it ourselves. Anyway, I'm grateful to be there. (Finally. At the age of 40.)
What's your (good or bad) Thanksgiving tradition?