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 Lifemarathon 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!


5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Laurie Ann said,

    Holiday closet monsters? There’s a reason my whole family is on the Eastern side of the country while I’m out here. With the exception of the one Thanksgiving spent at my sister’s house, it’s always Family Drama Hour at the old homestead. Someone drinks a bit, Mom leaves in a huff. Someone implies my cousin is gay (he is), Mom leaves in a huff. Someone suggests Mom lighten up a little, Mom leaves in a huff.

    I think you see the pattern. Nevermind the fact that this holiday coincides with my birthday every few years ensuring that my birthday is ruined by all the shenanigans and hurt feelings. And they wonder why I don’t come home for the holidays.

  2. 2

    SilliGirl said,

    I’m looking forward to four days with my husband (and kids), and a jolly day of eating with my sister and her boyfriend tomorrow. That said, Thanksgiving was the holiday we always did with my mom because we do Christmas in CT every year. So, y’know, her being dead puts a bit of a damper on the celebrations this year.

    And in response to your historical anxieties, my feeling is that teaching the real history (which is important and should be done) doesn’t need to take away from the enjoyment of four days off in a row. Compartmentalize, my friend!

  3. 3

    from away said,

    I think you covered it — knowing too much history (ruins everything from holidays to jewelry, no?) and not having enough money (yet knowing how much more I have than so many other people, which brings up the history all over again).

    The origins of most holidays suck, so I just go with the festive eating and gift-giving.

    Happy long weekend to you and the fam. 🙂

  4. 4

    desiknitter said,

    I can’t believe you mention completely superficial stuff like the papering over of an awkward and violent history, family tensions and rampant consumerism without mentioning the really serious danger: THE WEIGHT YOU GAIN DURING HOLIDAYS!! Sorry for shouting, but really, nothing compares to that monster, don’t you think?

    Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  5. 5

    writer2 said,

    Wouldn’t disgaree or question anything you said about the smugness of conquerers or the complicated emotions of a holiday based upon beaming families and piles of gifts. One small way to get a different, and sobering, perspective on this was a two-hour stint yesterday at a local shelter for the homeless doling out turkey dinner and scrubbing pots and pans. The 75 or men there were truly grateful, very patient and appreciative, and it was very revealing to see how dedicated the staff and regular volunteers were. it’s something we’ll try to do more of, not simply because it’s a way of helping but also because it’s a revealing counterpoint to the one-sided depiction of Thanksgiving and the whole holiday commidity cheer thing. It made me feel idiiotic that we haven’t done this before.

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