Thanksgiving, for people whose families suck

Posted by mouthyb | Posted in | Posted on 11:58 AM


For this, our federally mandated day of thanks, I am grateful for many things. For instance, the cup of coffee I am currently mainlining is pretty awesome. The cat currently chewing on my toes and purring like an off-kilter bandsaw is less awesome, but I'll forgive him. (He just gave me a filth-dipped glare for trying to shake him off.)

I am grateful for the partner, still sleeping in my bed. A group of friends and I will be having Thanksgiving dinner together in about six hours. I'm making char siu bao. When I finish mainlining the coffee, it will be time to start chopping the Chinese BBQ pork I made last night.

The cat is now sitting between me and the computer screen. I blame him for any grammar errors after this point.

Most of my adult life, I have spent the holiday season alone. The kids go to their other families' houses, a custom I instituted because I can't typically afford to do anything for the holidays. Sometimes whomever I'm dating drags me to one of their family events, but more often I play video games or do homework until the holiday goes away. Until recently, the holiday season has been incredibly painful for me; you can't miss the whole 'this is a time for families to be together' theme, and for those of us who can't go home, the whole thing does nothing but rub our noses in the lack of family support.

This year, I've finally learned to be philosophical about it: if I had their support, I'm pretty sure I would be doing something I'd find morally abhorrent, like going to church. I find that an amazing change from my usual 'trying not to slide into a black pit of despair' experience of the holidays. It is true, there is no parental relationship (or even familial relationship; my brother is in town, and he'll probably go to the parents' for dinner) for me to experience thankfulness for. It's also true that I don't have a lot of money, again, for presents or for a super nice dinner.

The sting, however, has faded; I don't have to have their love, such as it is. I don't need the commercial account of what it's like to have good holidays I can have a holiday of my own.

I have a handful of things to be grateful for which I did not, last year. Tomorrow will be one year since I met the snoring man in my bed. I have managed to navigate my little family boat another year worth of nasty financial news and upsets, with a minimal income, and kept a roof over our heads, food on our plates, gas and electricity and internet. Only just, but I'm good through the end of the year, barring a fire. The kids are healthy enough, I'm still alive, and I've been allowed to learn science.

I am no longer working in retail, so I don't have to work another Black Friday. Hallelujah.

I can do the math I so love, the industry I'm going into has super low unemployment, I like my computer and I am wonderfully without contact with my family, today. I get to go to a group of friends, people who also have some unhappy experiences of family life, and we get to go make each other full.

And so, even if my Thanksgiving does not resemble the commercial image which is so forced down our throats this time of year, I am grateful for it. I am grateful for all of it (to a greater or lesser degree, of course.)

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