I could be talking about a colonoscopy, but I’m not – I’m relieved that the mid-term elections went off without a total collapse of our political system. And, if any of you had to undergo a colonoscopy during this last election season, I certainly hope it wasn’t bad for you.

I am beyond delight that I no longer have to listen to political ads and find myself almost giddy to embrace their replacement of Black Friday Sales, Christmas-themed sales of phones, mattresses, cars, and wireless plans.

My need for checking my phone for updates has also diminished. I was never a Twitter person, but my heart certainly goes out to the thousands of workers who were summarily canned by a celebrity bazillionaire who, like that bull in the china shop, left mass destruction in his wake.

Turning My Attention

Depending on which channel I choose to surf at night, I can spend time re-hashing the past election and clarifying why so-and-so was right/wrong, or I can turn my attention to the up-coming holiday season. I find I am more than ready to move on, and so now am contemplating “The Holidays”

Confession:  I Don’t Like Turkey

While I have many wonderful memories associated with Thanksgiving, I am not a fan of The Bird. This may be due to turkey being used in so many products nowadays because of its nutritional values, but I suspect it has more to do with the effort it takes to create not just a presentable entrée, but also that fact that almost all the taste has been bred out of the breed in an effort to “grow ‘em bigger”.

I also don’t like pumpkin pie. (Gosh, it feels good to get that off my chest!)  I am pretty sure this is due to being raised on canned pumpkin. There was a time in my life when I attempted to actually bake a pumpkin, take the entrails and turn it into a “homemade” final course. While I made a valiant effort, the pie was quickly exiled to the garbage.

What I do enjoy are the fixin’s: stuffing (just bread – not cornbread or other fancy-schmancy combinations), canned jellied cranberry, black olives, and mashed potatoes with gravy.  I don’t think that quite comes up to the Martha Stewart Thanksgiving Standard, though.

Thanksgiving Is All About Family

When I was a child, my family would gather at my maternal grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. We were a small group, unlike Norman Rockwell’s classic magazine cover, and stayed that way until I was in college. By that time, my mother was all that remained of her immediate family. When November came around, she was taken in by cousins (as was I when I came home), whose numbers more closely resembled Norman Rockwell’s standard.

As I settled into my young adult years, too many miles away for an “over the river and through the woods” trip home, my roommate and I hosted “Orphan’s Thanksgiving” for friends who were in similar circumstances. These were wonderfully fun dinners, where we shared good food, good wine, and lots and lots of food!

Being Alone at Thanksgiving

Now that I am older, like my mother, I have become an “orphan”. I have no relatives within shouting distance, and I am less and less enthralled with indulging in food and drink. Truth be told, I don’t mind being by myself. Still, I know that there are many others for whom being alone is difficult, especially when there is added stress of being unhoused or unable to pay for a meal.

For many years, my husband and I would volunteer and deliver Thanksgiving meals to folks who were housebound. It was an opportunity to bring both nourishment and loving kindness into people’s lives. That act was always reciprocal, with just as much love and gratitude coming our way as we extended.

My small town has a huge gathering at our Community Center that is always well attended, but I am not inclined to be around large groups of strangers, so even though it looks like fun, I have never gone. I typically decline invitations to join others for the holiday meal since my husband died. Although I appreciate being included, I recognize that Thanksgiving is very much rooted in families and family traditions, and bringing a stranger to the table can be awkward.

Adapting Traditions to Suit My Needs

I do still like to watch the Macy’s Day parade, and set aside several days to watch Miracle on 34th Street (the original) and White Christmas. I love listening to Christmas music; the sacred and the secular. Maybe this year, now that the pandemic seems to be in retreat, I will attend a Christmas concert or two and even go to a service somewhere.

The holiday traditions that hold happy memories for me include making cards, cooking certain foods, and sharing. To the degree that I feel so inclined this year, I may make my grandmother’s Scottish Shortbread cookies, maybe even a Christmas Stollen, and definitely will be making some Christmas cards to send. As for Thanksgiving, I will happily pass on the turkey and just enjoy connecting with friends on Facebook and through phone calls.

Change like this suits me. I won’t worry about looking back and saying, “Thank God that’s over!”  I can enjoy my memories, create some new ones, and feel the gratitude for having such a rich legacy to draw from.

4 responses to “Thank God That’s Over!  Was It Bad for You?”

  1. Dhammadharini Monastery Avatar
    Dhammadharini Monastery

    Like many I would say to you “You are always happily welcome” here. I do wish the election was over.. we will see…..

  2. Tim L Gieseke Avatar
    Tim L Gieseke

    Thanks for being transparent about the election and the holidays. I too am glad they are over and particularly glad that the cataclysmic predictions are past. The holidays are more Norman Rockwell for me this year, but I have friends who have lost a spouse or are estranged from their children, which makes this a much harder time of year. I have so much to be grateful for and appreciate that part of the holiday season. Thanks for helping us think ahead about these holidays and how to spend the time wisely.

  3. Berkeley Fuller-Lewis Avatar
    Berkeley Fuller-Lewis

    Hi Mary, really enjoyed your blog today.

    As you know, my husband and I have long since been convinced that we are both “Aliens” (i.e., not of this country, nor of this planet nor even of this species). Of course, our sense of “alien”-ation did begin for each of us , with all four of our parents being sad, dysfunctional, useless nut-jobs with nothing to give and nothing useful to teach.

    Ours are two tales of persistence, of self-love (having NOT received any from parents so well-taught to hate themselves) and transformation — from surviving, to thriving. Once each of us was well along along that road, we met each other and immediately recognized a kindred (successful warrior) spirit. So — oh rambling one (me) — how does all the above related to “Thanksgiving?”

    Instead, today, we two ARE wildly thankful for (a) both of our original orphan-hoods [which protected us from “belonging” to this huge train wreck], (b) our long separate treks to uncover and cherish our true selves, and (c) finding each other (in our 60s/70s). (Of course, both of us having been born gay — in the stiffled, macho 1950s — added just a SLIGHT extra dash of “alienation.” Ho ho ho!


  4. Bob Frager Avatar
    Bob Frager

    You reminded me of growing up in NYC and going to watch the Parade. After we moved to CA we watched it on TV, and in color which was a big deal then.
    We had a big family Thanksgiving dinner every year (before moving to CA). Most of my father’s family lived in Newburgh NY, about a 2 hour drive in those days. Grandparents, 5 pairs of uncles and aunts, and 4 cousins. Lots of food.

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