The One In Which I Break The Cardinal Rule of Thanksgiving

by Cait

I am about to say something that is completly ungrateful and that will probably offend most people reading this.  Seriously.  To soften this blow I have actually edited out the most offensive parts provided this cheerful picture of a Pilgrim and an Indian Native American.  I also fully encourage anyone who is easily offended and/or does not enjoy my bluntness to stop reading now.  Or alternatively I suppose you can continue reading but imagine me as Sarah Jessica Parker’s ungrateful, throat clearing, socially awkward, strata-spilling character in The Family Stone.

 Photo source

 I don’t like Thanksgiving.

I’m not really one for most holidays, but especially recently I feel that Thanksgiving has become more of the beginning of Christmas season and shopping than a holiday to celebrate being thankful for what you have (you don’t even want to hear my rant about Christmas and rampant consumerism, etc).  I think this was partially born from working retail jobs.  Now I just have a job where I don’t get the same days off as most people and I don’t like being expected to get together on a certain day.  Honestly, I hate being expected to do anything.  I enjoyed holidays when I was younger because it meant getting to see family I hadn’t seen in a long time (my mom’s sister and her husband live in another state so I only see them once or twice a year, and my cousins now live in Utah and Nebraska) and my parents always did a good job of splitting holidays in a way that wasn’t hectic because we weren’t rushing from house to house in order to see everyone and no one got offended that we didn’t see them.  I can only imagine that this routine was something they worked out after a few years of marriage and juggling family plans, but I’ve never asked because it has always seemed so normal to me.

Last year and this year my parents have gone out of town for Thanksgiving to visit my aunt & uncle, and my sister since she lives up that way now.  Robert and I have spent the day with Robert’s family, which is lovely but I miss my family.  I miss bickering over pie and ice cream with my cousins.  I miss my grandmother’s macaroni (and my granddad’s attempt to make it one year).  I miss setting the table and making place cards (which usually ended up getting mocked and no one sat in the “right” place anyhow).  For someone who doesn’t like holidays, I miss it all so much that I’ll probably stow away in my parents’ luggage if they go out of town again next year.

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11 Responses to “The One In Which I Break The Cardinal Rule of Thanksgiving”

  1. [Social Etiquette Commentary]

    I really strongly believe that everyone needs to work one (1) Black Friday in retail, and needs to work one (1) month of food service to be considered as productive members of society. Working retail in high school and waiting tables in college really opened my eyes to how crazy people can be. And while I’m crazy, I can proudly say I’m not THAT crazy.

    [/Social Etiquette Commentary]

    • I completely agree. I worked in retail right after high school and in college, and then I worked in a coffee shop (which isn’t the same as waiting tables of course, but it’s still insane) for three years. Whatever happened to making gifts for people and just spending time with family?

  2. I clicked “Post” too early – What I was going to say was the one great thing my inlaws are doing this year is NO GIFTS. Everyone is to take the money they would have spent on buying stupid trinkets for each other, and go donate the money to a good cause, or find a family that needs an “Adopt-A-Santa” where they have a few gifts they’ve anonymously requested for their children and do something like that (usually churches have those sorts of things).

    Anyways, I think that is a much better tradition than buying cheaply made plastic or flashing lights that have no significant meaning.

    • That sounds like a great tradition! I remember one year we (my parents, sister and I) bought toys/presents for a family in need and it was awesome, I wish we had continued that. I’d much rather forgo the gifts and just spend time with family, especially if it meant the money was going to help someone else.

  3. I agree with both of you! Maybe because I worked in retail AND waited tables? Or maybe just that I hate conforming to what is ‘expected’ of me also.

    But I actually love Thanksgiving because a) it doesn’t last for 3 months and isn’t filled with a bunch of consumerism itself, though it gets the kick off of Christmas award and b) because I love food. Thanksgiving is a holiday where you can just eat, drink and be merry without risking our life entering a mall or dealing with unnecessary chaos for the entire month before.

    I love the idea of no gifts. My husband and I haven’t exchanged in years, but I also like the idea of making things or giving on a small budget. Really makes you think creatively and the gift is sure to come from the heart! :)

    • I love the idea that Thanksgiving is just about spending time with family and not shopping, but somehow I feel like the consumerism always sneaks in there. Not sure how it happens. I guess it’s possible that I have just lost my holiday mojo.

      Robert and I usually exchange small gifts or cards and just spend time together. I like giving on a small budget, too.

  4. I worked at a camera shop for a year. People came in and tell us how our prices were higher than Best Buy and Costco nonstop during the holidays. After that year, I vowed to shop locally more often and have. I realized how no one understood that what they got at our shop was more personal customer service & more knowledge of the cameras and less box stores. So now, every Black Friday, my mom and I shop in our little local towns stores instead of going to the mall.

    I lost two grandparents in 2008 and had a miserable holiday then. It made our family smaller and felt depressing. Last year, I combined my husband’s family and mine into Christmas Eve the way my grandma did and we had a blast! Everyone keeps telling us how they are looking forward to it again. So I feel like I got my holiday mojo back!

    • I love to shop locally for holiday gifts, just not on Black Friday! haha (Mostly because I’m usually working.)

      My mom’s parents both passed away recently, so I completely understand why she may not be feeling especially festive (plus she always say the flag holidays are her favorite because you don’t have to buy gifts or cook). I’m hoping to spend Thanksgiving with my parents next year, whether that means going out of town or not, and then possibly combining both sides the year after.

      Glad you got your holiday mojo back!

  5. Working in retail can really suck the joy outta Thanksgiving from you, because EVERYTHING revolves around gluttony and Black Friday sales. That being said, since I personally moved on to a corporate job, I’ve removed the push for Black Friday sales and no longer lose my mind over what I need to get for people for Christmas. I’ve worked the day after Christmas (in my corporate job) for the past 3 years. This requires me to sleep past 2 a.m. (so not lining up for this garbage fest) and only allows me to venture out for 1 hour (lunch break) in the middle of the day (when all the real crazies are already done shopping). But Thanksgiving has allowed more a focus on family and conversation and spending time with loved ones whereas I do feel the $$ drift outta my wallet whenever December 1 hits.

    • Thankfully I at least work behind the scenes for a retail store now, but it still sucks the joy out of Thanksgiving with the push to get holiday items up on the website. I’ve never really been a Black Friday shopper, and working it in retail a few years in a row kind of killed any desire to brave the crowds.

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