Thanksgiving is a few days away. As the turkey begins to thaw and the grocery store cashiers break up a fight over cranberry sauce in aisle seven, I find myself feeling ambivalent to the upcoming holiday. Holidays have always been hard for me, maybe its part of being raised in the “wasn’t hugged enough as a child” category.
In all seriousness though, being a constant guest to other’s special occasions has taxed my holiday spirit. The coffers were all but dried up by the time I had children. Where most spend their autumn and early winter excited to spend time with family members that they don’t always get to see, I spend it sipping my pumpkin spice and prepping myself mentally for the onslaught of images of happy families that will undoubtedly fill my Facebook newsfeed. Generations of togetherness, gathered with smiles and an abundance of love.
To say I am jealous would be underselling my envy. If you turn down the angry music, sarcasm and peel away the tattoos, I am nothing more than someone who spent one too many holidays feeling like I shouldn’t exist.
In my early adulthood (late childhood might be a more appropriate term) I had created strong ties with friends. These ties weren’t genetic, these people did not share my blood. They shared my sadness. The holidays were lonely for them too. Black sheep, cast outs, fuck ups, we banded together to celebrate on the days when families gathered. Merry band of misfits, not having to sit uncomfortably trying not to be seen in a room full of strangers who expected more from us than we had to give.
When I made a family, with the wonderful woman who took the time to peel those layers away (Us disenfranchised youth are like ogres, which are like onions, we make people cry or something) I thought all that might change. I thought, “Hey, now I have family I feel love for. I have family who makes me feel wanted.”
We still kept our table open, for those fuck ups without places to be on a crisp November day. Their will always be a spot at the table for those in need of it. I know my table has become uneasy for most of them sadly. We banded together in the bonds of not having anyone and I broke the rules by making a family of my own.
This year, there will be an empty chair at the feast. My wife, who works in a super secret highly confidential job (I don’t know how much of her job I am allowed to disclose, she does social work, helping people with disabilities learn how to live on their own or something like that), will be at work.
Now, yes, tons of families everywhere spend holidays missing someone at their table. I am not sitting here on the floor crying at my lot in life. Okay, maybe I am a little. The truth is, the people she works with, they need her more on this holiday than I do. All my selfishness in the world can’t deny that. It doesn’t make spending the holiday without her easier on me.
A part of me wants to cancel the event, get Hungry Man tv dinners and watch football with my kids. Even when I don’t mean to, I have already prepared myself for the letdown of the holiday season, it would be nothing for me to sit it out and pretend it was any other day. I could change the date, have a Thanksgiving another day of the week I suppose. Maybe then I could make all holidays fall on convenient dates, Ezra’s birthday is no longer the day after Christmas! I decree it will be right after tax returns, like his brothers.
I spent so long feeling incomplete on holidays, I am just not ready for that feeling again.