It was Thanksgiving in the States yesterday. Today, fortified by turkey and mashed taters, people are on the material end of the orgy that the holiday has become.
Oh sure, I read Facebook status updates and blogs that give thanks, but for the most part, I think the original meaning has been lost. It is a day to dig deep, be grateful and give the gift of time to those who are most special.
Holidays like Thanksgiving have a tendency to draw out the opposite emotions. I read just as many blog pieces denouncing the idea of gratitude, and citing all the reasons for doing so, as I read positive spins.
It’s not Thanksgiving here in Canada. Ours was weeks ago. Canadians sensibly schedule it for Monday and because it’s far too early to worry about Christmas, there is no accompanying shopping frenzy. The last time I went out on Black Friday was 2004. My folks and nephew had come to celebrate with us. Not that the spirit of gratitude was easy to muster. Will had gone into the nursing home about five-weeks before and I brought him home for the day. He was miserable because his mother refused to come join us. She always had this weird thing about my parents. She thought, and I don’t know where it came from, that my family was a step up the middle-class rung from hers. She imagined that my parents judged her. Which wasn’t true. Her behavior puzzled them because they simply couldn’t understand why she wasn’t stepping up to be more of a help than hinderance, but they didn’t judge her. Not like my sister, DNOS, anyway, who thought that MIL’s whingeing was over the top and self-serving.
I think Mom went out with me and I found a sweater at Old Navy that I still have because it is very warm. We didn’t get to the mall until well after the mob had been through. That same mall opened today at 3AM with a pancake breakfast for shoppers before the stores opened at 4 or 5AM. I don’t think any amount of savings is worth getting up in the middle of the night.
All in all, it wasn’t the worst Thanksgiving. Life had settled into a routine and though it was a lonely one for me, I knew that it could easily have been worse. So I was as grateful as I could be and tried not to grouse. The year before, after all, I was looking at the possibility of losing my house and worrying about my brain-damaged husband, who I couldn’t afford to put in a daycare and was leaving him on his own while I worked. Things were better by comparison.
Thanksgiving right before Will died and the next year were spent with my best friend’s family. She took us in for holidays a lot and honestly, it was very nice. Dee had kids to play with and I had friends to interact with, and maybe it might seem awful and sad to some people, but we always had a reasonably good time.
And it was a day off work. Days off were welcome because my daily routine was long and numbing more often than not.
And still, it could have been worse.
Most people don’t like to look at the brighter side when they are unhappy with life’s lot. For the vast majority, there is a lot to be grateful for in spite of personal difficulties. And that’s what holidays are really for anyway. They are an opportunity to take off the tunnel vision specs and take a good, honest look around.