This year I was looking forward to Thanksgiving for the first time in almost 30 years. Something quieter. A day I could spend with the people who love me most and demonstrate that frequently. I wouldn't have to sit and make polite chitchat with people I avoid. I wouldn't have to walk around with my mask in place all day. I wouldn't have to pretend that this holiday was amazing and wonderful when what I felt was more akin to dread. I wouldn't have to worry how any word that slipped my lips might be twisted to someone else's gain.
For 30 years, I have endured this. I have sat at table with someone I loathe and pretended not to. I have sat my insides writhing, pretending to eat, all while chaos erupted around me. Some years were easy. Some less so. I did this for family. I tolerated political lectures that made me cringe inside. I dealt with auditory-damaging levels of noise. I dealt with kids vomiting on the table (Yes, this really happened). I dealt with having someone else's agenda rammed down my throat. I did it to keep the peace. Sacrificing my own happiness for that of the greater good - the Kobayashi Maru of my life. (If you don't get this reference, please just step out).
This year I chose me and said I wasn't going. My choice. Frankly I was looking forward to a calm day of writing or finding someplace cozy for my mom and I to enjoy a good meal. When I bailed, mom followed suit. When mom bailed, so did my brother. Seems we were all just a bit tired of the status quo and needed something different. This caused my sister-in-law who hosts Thanksgiving to have a melt down. She called to tear me a new one for doing this. She thought I had orchestrated a take down of 'her' holiday. She blamed me for all the people not coming as if I was able to control them - ha! She was irate at extra food, conveniently forgetting a Christmas where her entire family bailed at 5PM on dinner on Christmas day leaving me with 15 extra helpings of everything. All because there were members of my family in attendance that she does NOT associate with - insert Sour Kangaroo sniff here.
I couldn't take it. I exploded right back at her. Exploded out all the anger that I had inside about her assumptions and bullshit. I am done taking it for a family that is as fake as that Rockwell one. And I have no intention of letting her bully me verbally the way she is used to doing with her own family. Her behavior illustrated the very reason why I chose not to go and sealed the deal for me and any waffling ceased. I was not going. Not this year. Not next year. Maybe not ever again. Turns out she did not call my mom or my brother who also decided not to go. Just me. Because I am the least volatile and therefore the one most easily bullied.
Something different this year was a last minute meal by Kroger. (FYI - good bird. Bad sides). It was what I needed - quieter, cozy, more intimate, more loving. My mom sailed through the day without much evidence of her AD and was OK after. (Previous Thanksgivings would often find her sick or in bed after). For me Thanksgiving isn't about the turkey, the stuffing, even the pumpkin pie. It's about the people who sit at table with me and how very much I love them. This year was a home run. I enjoyed a very mediocre meal and it went down with more laughter and love than I can remember.
No zombie Thanksgiving for me this year - although somehow a ferREAL zombie Thanksgiving makes me smile. Maybe next year. Couldn't hurt the food any.