My Amazing Thanksgiving
It’s been a week since Thanksgiving and I’m in a great mood. I think it’s because this year during Thanksgiving no one cursed. No one cried. No one ran out of the house in the middle of heated conversations. This year no one got stupid drunk. This year no one got into petty arguments over family squabbles, family history, family quibbles.
This year Thanksgiving included me, my kid and my girlfriend.
And for most of the four days, it was just me and my kid. We talked. We watched movies (Inside Out, Grand Budapest Hotel, The Way, Way Back, Dave), we ate good food, we went to see a reading of a really interesting new solo show by a friend and fellow artist in Bradley Beach, we shared memories, we worked on Z’s SATs together and we individually watched our current favorite shows (Parks & Rec for Z, Big Love for me).
I commented to Z at least two or three times that this has been the best Thanksgiving I can remember ever having. No stress. No pressure. No bullshit. Just ease, enjoyment and fun.
And that got me a little sad. Just a little sad, but still, notably a little sad because I wish that I could have this kind of easy holiday while including members of my family. Why is it that gatherings that involve family have to be or always end up being so stressful? These are the people that we, arguably, could be closest with - and yet, we’re so far from being intimate with them.
I have a very small family. I’m an only child. My mom’s an only child. My dad lives 3000 miles away from his nearest close relatives. My daughter is an only child. So when I’m talking about my “family” getting together, I’m really talking about four people: me, my kid, my mom and dad. And yet that combination is enough to send me reeling off the edges of sanity. I can not STAND the way my mom talks to my dad. And I can’t stand the way my dad talks to me. And my dad can’t stand how I talk to him. And my kid can’t stand me being upset at my parents.
With just four people we can create so much emotional havoc.
So, this year I decided to pare things down to the lowest denominator. Me, my kid, and my girlfriend dropping in at the end of the evening to watch a movie. Simple. And it went swimmingly.
If we were living in the same city, I’d suggest family therapy for me with my folks, ‘cause the amount of tension is just ridiculous for three relatively balanced and articulate adults to cause. But for now, I’m just going to keep the holidays to myself. Sometimes avoidance is the best defense. I never thought I’d say that, but, as the Emperor in Amadeus says, “there it is.”