So, I am sitting in a Days Inn at 9:30 on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend… because I can. It’s lovely.
I know that we are “supposed to” celebrate this “holiday” by sitting with our families and counting our blessings… But here’s the thing.
My parents divorced when I was four years old. I’m not blaming them or their divorce for anything, at least not in this post. However, the life of a divorced kid can be complicated.
My experience was such that we had two of every holiday. Two Easters, two Christmases, two birthdays, summer holidays split between two cities… and Thanksgiving. It’s the worst.
I know two of every holiday sounds like every kid’s dream, but really, think about the logistics. You have to travel to two households to have at least two family dinners (usually three or four once you factor in grandparents), and you have to do it all in the same amount of time designed to accommodate one (or at most two) central familial celebration.
Easter is usually pretty easy; after all it’s mostly about the candy, right? Christmas, well, it’s spread over three “real holidays” and buffered by two weeks of school holidays, so you have ample recovery time.
Thanksgiving though, you have a weekend, and one statutory holiday, more turkey than you ever wanted to eat, and a driving time comparable to the cooking time of all of the giant birds combined.
Add to that the fact that your teachers pile on the homework “because you’ll have time – it’s a long weekend after all” and that your mother wakes you at 6:30 to start cooking the stuffing and turkey with her “because you’re the oldest, and it’ll be a fun mother-daughter bonding experience – besides, one day you’ll need to know this” and that you have to be nice to the cousin who takes over the conversation and claims to have experienced everything going on in your life before you and that your sister forgot to pack her underwear, again, and so she steals yours and you have to wear a pair of your mother’s and that your stepfather continues to be, well, himself so that when it’s your turn at the table to declare that thing for which you are thankful all you can think of is “My new adventure book, and my own room, into neither of which are any of you invited.” But you can’t say that, so you murmur “Family” and have done with it.
So I grew up to work in hospitality, which I loved. Because one of the best things about shift work, is that you can work all the holidays. Thereby, avoiding the hazards of family celebrations and not having to lie to anybody. Exaggerate, maybe, but outright lie, nope. “I do have to work Mom… my shift is supposed to end at four but you never know…”
But one of the worst things about hospitality is the pay. So if I wanted to be financially independent and own a home within the next ten years… well, I had to go corporate. And the worst thing about corporate life is you don’t work holidays.
So this year, I could have gone to my fella’s parents on Saturday, and my mother’s sister’s on Sunday, and my father’s on Monday, and been exhausted and frazzled come Tuesday but instead, I told them all I was leaving them. I was Going Away. To where I knew not, nor would I tell them if I could. I was going to sleep late. Or wake up early and make all the noise I wanted. I was going to eat what, and where, and when I wanted to, and explore a city for all it’s untold splendour.
My stepmom applauded me, and my father told me to be safe, and my mother was convinced that I was depressed and isolating myself (and she may now be convinced that I am in denial about those conditions), and the boyfriend (I have to give him a name here… let’s call him Dashing) said he was happy I was happy and was behind me one hundred percent. And my coworkers looked at me with pity and asked all sorts of bewildered questions, and my vocal coach seemed startled but mellowed, and the desk clerk checked me in with a “You ran away from home… on this weekend?”
So a mixed bag. Seems everyone has a strong opinion on this. Anyone out there want to weigh in? I’d love to hear your comments below.