Shifting Thanksgiving


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with triggers for people. Our button-pushing family will be around, doing what they do best, pushing our buttons. As a good friend often says, “They installed them.” Our Native brethren mourn rather than celebrate, due to the years of attempted genocide that came after the first Thanksgiving. There are many who do not have families, or whose families have excommunicated them for dumb things like  being queer or addicted or anything that doesn’t fit their narrow window of whatever it is that defines family for the morbidly small-minded.

For women all over the US, Thanksgiving is a day of service. It’s one more day when we get to reconnect with our stifled, 1950’s, housewife selves. FUN! Only, not fun. In light of my resentment of what I consider to be the traditional rendition of Thanksgiving, I decided to shift things around a bit this year.

You may wonder what my perception of the ‘Traditional Thanksgiving,’ is. It goes like this: An adult woman spends the day in the kitchen cooking things that the family eats only once or twice a year. She has likely spent the last month, at least, reviewing copies of Martha Stewart’s LIVING magazine, SOUTHERN LIVING magazine and, perhaps, GARDEN AND GUN without enjoying any of the GUN portions. The heat is on, baby, to have the perfectly clean house with perfectly arranged autumnal flowers with the perfect turkey and the perfect side dishes. This adult woman is beyond frazzled, beyond exhausted and that’s before she even tackles roasting the perfect turkey and making mashed potatoes, gravy, dinner rolls, greens, cranberry chutney, maple glazed carrots and several lovely cocktails all from scratch!

It is possible that I am speaking from personal experience here but I find that this theoretical adult woman resents the ever loving shit out of being stuck, mostly alone, in the kitchen all day while her closest friends and family eat oysters in the back yard, drink beer and watch football or the parade. Even though folks do stop by to lend a hand, they rarely linger because OYSTERS and FOOTBALL.

I’m just not doing that any more. I mean, SHE isn’t doing that anymore. Yeah, SHE…

This year I decided to invite many families to come and share our Thanksgiving with us and was surprised at the abject relief (yes, abject relief!) in the tones with which the, “We will be there!” ‘s came. Clearly I’m not the only one worn out from the expectations, many of them self-generated based on societal, consumeristic norms.

This year, we are having an all-day Open House. We are providing a lot of meat–a local, pastured turkey and Boston Butt; some bacon-wrapped venison tenderloins from deer my husband hunted; and local oysters my husband and his best friend have purging in the salty sea. I’m crock potting some mixed greens and potatoes gratin. I bought a lot of wine. The plan is that people will come when they can and leave when they want. There will be no meal time, we can simply graze all day long.

Yes, we are going to vacuum and clean the bathrooms, and that’s about it. I am so looking forward to tomorrow! We will have a great abundance of food and fellowship without any one of us having been stressed to the breaking point about prepping a meal fit for the Queen of Melanesia.

I will have time to offer a plate to the fire in honor of the spirits who live on the land and the ancestors. I will have time to eat some oysters! I will have time to converse with my family and friends and to relax and simply graze all day long.

I offer this blog post in the spirit of releasing past trauma around Thanksgiving and in the hope that by releasing it and sinking into the idea that this day is what we make it, my family and I can make a small shift that will benefit the world.

*Are you local and feeling alone tomorrow, 11/25/15? Please reply, there are many families volunteering to host you and I will try and put you in touch.

One Comment on “Shifting Thanksgiving

  1. I, too, WAS one of those toiling in the kitchen while family relaxes in another room, or another part of the “family ” room. That is long past
    These past years since my husbands dying I have been in the wind. A good friend has invited me to her home for dinner. And yes, remembering, I pitched in and assisted where needed or asked!
    This year has brought. shift in her family gathering that makes it blood family only.
    I had wondered about inviting friends to my home. That would have required the obligatory kitchen time but with others to support
    And bringing some kind of dish

    However , about two weeks ago a friend write saying three others are going to a nice place about 50 miles away for dinner and would I like to join them!! That felt so refreshing. I gladly and gratefully accepted.

    So instead of being alone or cooking, I will be served. I am driving as my car will hold five. I am glad to drive through the beautiful gorge.
    There will be side stops with plenty of laughter and joy of sharing gratitude
    Though I begin da h day with gratitude, tomorrow will be giving thanks from a shifted perspective of doing the day in a new way.

    Perhaps another year I will open my door to folks who have no one or not enough food. I am glad to share my comfortable home But this year is for me.
    Thank you for your beautiful post

    With love and gratitude I know you, call you sister, and you are in my heart

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