As many of my readers will know, Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. Putting my family together with the expectations of a celebration to rival the covers of the Saturday Evening Post never worked out well. It was more like a production of The Crucible.
For many years, and I know I’m not alone in this, I avoided this holiday in any way I could. I worked. I was ‘on-call’. I watched a sick kitten. Even sitting here thinking of those past gatherings has my stomach trying to tie itself into knots. Easy stomach. Down boy.
Being an analytical sort I thought I would sit down and dissect exactly what was going through my brain. Plus, it takes me out of the arena of emotions and solidly back on the ground of intellectualism. Hooray for avoidance.
What is Thanksgiving at its very core?
- A historical commemoration
- A family gathering
- A celebration of (something?)
- A time to reflect on what we are thankful for
I have no problem with these ideas.
I believe in commemorating historical events. I don’t believe in most of the myth that surrounds the discovery and early European colonization of the Americas. That is a history lesson for another day.
Family getting together is not a bad thing. Not in the main. Some people simply have ‘chosen’ families rather than biological. I know that it is common to trot out the old saw that ‘Blood is thicker than water.’ Indeed, some folks have wonderful, giving, supportive families. Others, don’t.
Celebrating something. Sure. Why not?
But, to celebrate something doesn’t require mounds of excess that devolves into this frenzy of acquisition. Again, that is a different essay.
A time to reflect on what we are thankful for. Yes. This is, in my opinion, the reason to celebrate on Thanksgiving Day.
So what do I have a problem with? The expectation that the day will be perfect. That the family will rise to some level of decency and caring that isn’t there the other 360+ days of the year. That in one day we can reach over the chasms between us for appearances. To provide the feeling, no matter how false, that we are a close loving family.
I stopped being able to do that years ago. The mask and the costume wouldn’t fit anymore. I was tired of pretending.
It’s a sad thing to think about. There are lots of ‘maybe’ and ‘what if’ and ‘why’ in all those memories. There’s a yearning for something that we pretended to have really been true. It’s a lovely wish.
I know it is just a fancy, all that stuff about wishes and fishes and bicycles and beggars.
I would rewrite Thanksgiving and I would make the center of it consist of gratitude. I admit I would strip it of most of the bells and whistles. So what might it look like?
It would look like me writing and contemplating all the people who have helped me this year. I would take a moment to say ‘Thank You’.
Thank you to the people of the CPTSD community for your support when I have needed it. Thank you for allowing me to help and offer support where I could.
Thank you to the mental health professionals who have helped me find more pieces of myself.
Then I would probably go into a long litany of individuals of who I wanted to thank, for their help, their encouragement, their kindness. The occasional dose of reality and keeping me on track. My chosen family whom I miss and pray that you all stay safe and healthy.
I would finish by thanking those who are on this journey. Thank you for supporting me, for understanding, and most of all sharing this road with me.