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Thanks

November 27, 2009

It’s an odd time of year. Today was Un-Thanksgiving, in that the kids and I treated it basically as Sunday, With More Food. No turkey, because I dislike turkey, and there were only to be three of us at table, plus I didn’t get my shit together to order an expensive organic free-range creature despite having the best intentions a week or so ago, before I forgot. Stuffing, sure, but straight out of the box. Cranberry sauce, homemade. Pie, boughten. Leftovers. Last night we had my best friend and her husband and kids over for Thanksgiving Eve (pot roast, turnips, kale salad, rice) but today they were off to family, like everyone else I know. (Their assorted families live within driving range; mine does not.) The kids and I played a few games, read, and bickered. They had fun, or seemed to. Secretly I had to force myself to muster enthusiasm for cooking, and found cleaning the kitchen for the millionth time rather wearying. I longed for adult company. I even longed for chaos, which was in short supply.

So it wasn’t festive, though it wasn’t especially drab. There’s not a whole lot to Thanksgiving, once you get past the roasted bird. At dinner, the kids said what they were thankful for…the little one spouted a bunch of school-prompted propaganda (“And I’m thankful for shelter, and my teachers, and my education, and having nice clean water to drink….”) while the big one surprised me by saying he was thankful for me, for his dad, for his school, for the financial aid that let him stay at his school post-separation, and–surprise!–for my boyfriend, for being such a nice guy.

My little brother used to go kick the tires of my mom’s boyfriends’ cars, after her divorce. They could be as nice as they wanted–he was determined to despise them. But my kids, to my astonishment, liked my boyfriend right away the first time they met him, and have continued to like him ever since. They even like his daughters. As do I. That’s a fairly massive thing to be thankful for.

I’m also thankful it’s not last Thanksgiving, when the most miserable and drunken summer in the world bled into fall, and I had to be hauled out of the gutter by my best friend. “We always promised to tell each other if we thought we were drinking too much,” she said. “You’re drinking too much. You have to stop.” So I did. It wasn’t that hard, physically, but I was feeling rather self-conscious and fragile this time last year, with everyone trying to fill my wineglass with something other than seltzer, and acting all blown away (“You’re not…pregnant?” someone whispered in horror) when I kept refusing to drink.

I’m thankful it’s not the Thanksgiving before last, when I knew the marriage was over but didn’t know how to get out of it, or even where to start.

Or the one before that, when I had just realized I was utterly miserable.

Or the one before that, when a not-entirely-innocent flirtation with a married guy led to a confrontation with his wife, and then to months of gut-churning drama while I waited to see whether she would, as threatened, spill the whole thing to my husband. (She did, later that winter. My husband did not take it well.)

So, this was the first Thanksgiving in four years in which High Stress Family Dynamics were not foregrounded. This year, I was just a little lonely, a little grumpy, a little underwhelmed by the whole event. Which certainly beats actively going out of my mind with one or another wretched and hugely upsetting situation.

And next year will be better. When you put it that way, I am simply prostrate with thanks.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Justme permalink
    December 1, 2009 9:58 am

    Wait one second! Weren’t at least one of those god awful Thanksgivings spent with me? I recall spilling an absolutely enormous goblet of red wine all over your new skirt, which was remedied by fits of laughter and me dousing you with seltzer water. How about my brother in law’s comment about “such an attractive woman”? Things were bad but you always manage to make me laugh until I spit in someone’s ear.

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