I’d like to think of it only as a couple days off from work, a time to be with family and friends, to fit as much as I can into my rapidly shrinking stomach (babies’ feet are up there now!), and to relax and listen to the “This American Life” marathon on KCRW. But as it is the holiday season, and I am genetically predisposed to neurosis, I would like to share with you everything that troubles me about this upcoming long weekend.
First, there is my conscience. Celebrating a mythologized peace between native peoples and colonial invaders is always kind of awkward, doncha think? Tisquantum, called Squanto, is revered in elementary schools nationwide as the kindly Indian who taught the Pilgrims how to survive the harsh New World winters. As for Tisquantum’s own history – how he was kidnapped, enslaved, and shipped to Spain fifteen years earlier; his journey from Spain to England; his transport back to New England in order that he might act as a peace broker between the English and the understandably hostile indigenous residents (a plan thwarted by the fact that all of his people had been killed by plague while he was away); his later corruption and the resultant death sentence imposed upon him by the leader of the Wampanoag confederation, which he narrowly escaped – Well, I must have been out sick the day my teacher covered that part.
But let’s get past all that unpleasantness. After all, it was a long time ago, and the celebration of Thanksgiving today has little if anything to do with its origins. (I will say that with a straight face, I will.)
Let’s get to the part where it’s about family and friends and being thankful for each other and all of our blessings. That’s something I can get behind, at least in theory. I am so deeply grateful to be spending this holiday with my husband, my friends, and the two little wrigglers in my midsection. At the same time, we’ve had the predictable slights (thoughtless rather than malicious, I’m sure) from some family, and I’m trying not to let that hurt more than it has to. The pressure we feel to be happy at this time of the year always makes people miserable, have you noticed?
Thanksgiving also seems to be beginning of the countdown to the gifty holidays, which are miseries unto themselves when money is tight. This year, as always, I will be a cheerful participant in Buy Nothing Day, but this year, perhaps more than in years past, my choice to participate will be balanced with my need to participate.
That about does it for my holiday anxieties right now. Misery loves company, though; what monsters lurk in your holiday closets?
Oh – and happy Thanksgiving!