When I was a kid I looked forward to the holidays, ever hopeful that this year it would be different. I was at least twelve before I realized that it was never going to be anything but a disappointment.
My parents would ask me what I wanted to eat on Thanksgiving and I'd say I wanted the traditional turkey, stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes, gravy, Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, Waldorf salad, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. My mother always ended up doing something wildly hinky like trying to make oyster stuffing or Cornish game hens. She didn't approve of mashed potatoes and couldn't/wouldn't make gravy. She refused to do anything fancier to a yam than bake it.
When we had Thanksgiving with my dad's parents his mother always came close to the perfect meal, but his dad seemed intent on putting us all on a diet right as he was carving the turkey, dishing out the stuffing. His slices of turkey were paper thin and the thimbleful of stuffing was just a tease of a taste. I could have eaten fifty of those servings but never was allowed to ask for more than three. My grandmother's pumpkin pie and whipped cream was perfection but the pie, once sliced into slivers, could have served at least twenty~there were only five of us. I gave up caring, hoping. I gave up falling for the promise the questions implied. "What do you want?" implied someone cared.
The first Christmas I remember, I was maybe three. Most people can't remember that far back. I can't remember yesterday, but I can remember my third year in shockingly vivid detail. I remember being coaxed and helped to write a letter to Santa. I wanted a tricycle. Just that one thing. Santa came and left me a letter telling why I couldn't have a tricycle. Santa always seemed to think I'd asked for the wrong thing. I gave up on Santa. When I was six I discovered that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy were a fiction adults told children. I figured they did that so they didn't have to tell you that they weren't going to get you what you'd asked for. Blame it on Santa.
Now that I'm old and bipolar, I'm aware of all the reasons the holidays are hard. I, like so many, have SAD, so as the days get shorter I get sad. I wouldn't mind winter so much if it weren't for short days and snow. If I had the money and liked people better I'd head toward the equator in the winter. Instead I just hibernate. The only problem with being a sort of semi-shut-in, is that well meaning people invite me to spend those two days, Thanksgiving and Christmas, with them and their crazyass friends and family. Really, I was sure my very small extended family (I'm the only child of my mother's family, and my father's family wants nothing to do with me since I refuse to keep the family secrets secret) was the worse family on earth. But now, I realize everybody has a crazy relative, there is at least one alcoholic in every family, and you all have one sister-in-law you loathe, so the stress level at the dinner table will be guaranteed to give everyone indigestion, if not a full blown screaming food fight. Sibling rivalry seems to revive at the holiday table. It now amazes me that there aren't more stabbings at holiday dinners.
Now if you ask me what I want to do on Thanksgiving, I'll tell you I want to stay home, read, nap, and when I get really hungry I want a neighbor to send one of the kids with a plate piled high with turkey and all the fixins.
Happy Thanksgiving darlings! Don't stab your alcoholic brother at the table. I'd hate to see you miss Christmas because you were in the pokey.
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