Even though I really like the idea of Thanksgiving Day – people taking the time to be grateful amongst friends and family while engorging themselves on traditional foods – I have chosen to opt out of celebrating it for most of my life. However, this year it looks like I’m opting in.
Growing up, Thanksgiving was never a big holiday in our family. Sure, we had turkey, but that really was the extent of it. Dinner was the same as any other day with mom eating in the kitchen by herself and dad in his chair in front of the TV. My brother and I would sit at the table with our necks craned so we could see the TV ourselves. No big extended family, no special china, no grace, no Kennedyesque touch football games in the front yard. Just turkey, mashed potatoes and canned cranberry sauce.
After my folks died and with no Thanksgiving invitations forthcoming from my brother, I tried to opt out of the holiday, but instead I became the designated orphan for my work colleagues and friends. I know they were trying to be thoughtful and generous by including me, but mostly they were painful affairs which left me feeling sad about my own lack of family or happy Thanksgiving memories.
Then there were a few years when I was happily left to my own devices. I enjoyed taking long walks through the deserted streets of downtown Oakland and San Francisco. I loved the lonely spaciousness of those streets and buildings that normal vibrate with the rushing of people and cars. And after my solo walk, I would take the opportunity to make food for which I was truly grateful,- things like lasagna and tacos. I never liked turkey all that much so the only nod to traditional Thanksgiving was to give the cats a can of turkey cat food.
For the last decade or so, the Boyfriend and I do a simple Thanksgiving here at my house. We do it mostly because he loves turkey and all the resulting leftovers. Being a vegetarian, this is non-issue for me. But, I do enjoy stuffing and sweet potatoes. And if it makes him happy, that is fine with me.
Tomorrow, however, the Boyfriend and I will be having dinner at Frank’s house with a bunch of Frank’s other orphan friends. And I’m actually looking forward to it despite my usual nervousness about social situations. Frank has a wide variety of interesting friends with tales of wild rivers and world travels, so hopefully if smile, listen attentively, and ask a lot of questions no one will necessarily notice that I’m rather dull.
Since I’ll actually be partaking in the holiday tomorrow, I thought I might do a traditional Thanksgiving blog post and list, in no particular order, many of the things for which I am grateful.
- I am grateful for all the furry creatures, past, present and future in my life. No matter how I am feeling about myself or my day, they never fail to make me smile. I can’t imagine a life that isn’t shared without at least one four-legged creature.
- I am grateful for my job. Not only do I work for a company that I do believe is dedicated to helping people, but I am surrounded by people who are (relatively) drama-free and make me laugh every day.
- I am grateful I have a dentist who is free and easy with both the bad puns and the nitrous.
- I am grateful for my cozy home and the kind people who rent it to me whom I consider friends.
- I am grateful for the Buddha, Dharma and the rag-tag circle of ex-Kadampas that are my Sangha.
- I am grateful for Trader Joe’s new non-fat chocolate yogurt. Acidophilus never tasted so good.
- I am grateful for the Boyfriend. Even though he misses the mark sometimes on being emotionally nurturing, I know he loves me and would never allow the oil in my car to get too low, or fail to take the cans down to the curb.
- I am grateful to my parents. I’ve grown up to be a half way decent human being with some integrity and compassion which proves they did something right.
- I am grateful to the internet and WordPress that make it possible for me to freely share my words and thoughts with some truly wonderful people across the world. For those of you who read and respond to my nonsense, thank you. It means a lot to me.