|No, Wait, Not This Turkey Day|
I've always preferred Thanksgiving to Christmas - don't get me wrong, I love Christmas as a time for being with family, but it's a little too... frenetic for me. Thanksgiving, though - a day dedicated to a good meal and just eating and enjoying. I don't have many bad Thanksgiving memories - I'm lucky enough to have a pretty stable family, without the drama and simmering fights that some people have to suffer through (and to those unfortunates, you have my empathy - I'd gladly invite you over to my place for a drama-free meal, as long as you don't torch the furniture or drink all the booze).
My parents have never been afraid to have a non-traditional Thanksgiving. We had our share of turkey-and-all-the-trimmings growing up, but we also did some pretty offbeat celebrations as well. One of my favorites was during my high school years. We drove down to St Mary's, Georgia and camped nearby, then on Thanksgiving Day, took a ferry to Cumberland Island and spent the day hiking. It was cold and blustery, but I remember enjoying it, despite my status as a Surly Teenager and desperate desire to Not Enjoy Anything Suggested By Parents. We hiked to the northern end of the island and near lunchtime, found a spot on the beach sheltered by dunes and set out a picnic lunch. I don't remember what we had - maybe turkey sandwiches -I just remember it was something we could easily pack in our backpacks. As we ate, a stranger rounded the dune and asked if we minded if he sat down out of the wind and ate his lunch. My parents got to talking, and invited him to share our meal, and we got to know him. He was retired, from New England, and was driving a friend's car down to Florida for them, and had decided on a whim to stop and see the island. We spent the rest of the afternoon hiking with Bob, and after we left, he and my parents kept in touch. Several times, he stopped over at our farm on his way north or south. In my memory, that Thanksgiving memory stands out the most - not for the food, but for the feeling of it. As I look back, I think on how that welcome, and the friendship my family got out of that, sums up for me what Thanksgiving should be about. For me, it's about finding commonality with people - with family, with friends, with complete strangers - and finding things to be joyful about.
So that's how I approach Thanksgiving. No matter what, I see it as a chance to, if only for a brief while, acknowledge the things that are going right. The rest of the year, I worry, and stress out, and get agitated. Right now, though, it's noticing the things that I don't have to worry about.