I hate Thanksgiving and I suspect that I’m not alone.
Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely grateful for the wonderful life I have – my marriage, our four wonderful children, my ability to make a living writing books, and, of course, living in this great country of ours.
In fact, gratitude is such a huge part of my life that I actually resent being told, “Take today off because we’re shutting everything down and go be grateful. And by the way, eat a lot of turkey. Or else.“ Which seems to be the message of modern Thanksgiving.
In addition, my childhood memories of Thanksgiving I’m not exactly positive. Like many people, I grew up in a very alcoholic extended family, and Thanksgiving was the day the wheels always came off. Uncle Mike would get drunk and make caustic remarks, leaving other family members in tears. My grandmother would get loaded and start crying, and then pass out with her face in her sweet potatoes. I will never forget that confused, traumatized feeling my sisters and I had as our family drove home from Thanksgiving dinner. My parents would sit silently and stoically in the front seat, like they’d just witnessed not a holiday meal but a crime scene.
So Thanksgiving is way, way down the list of my favorite holidays, somewhere between Stamp Day and Penguin Awareness Day (January 20; you can look it up).
Let me share with you five things that I would rather be doing on Thanksgiving, instead of having a big Thanksgiving dinner (did I mention that I was a vegetarian?), watching mediocre football, and experiencing PTSD-related flashbacks to Thanksgivings of yore.
Number one – I’d rather be at work. I love my work and love my clients. I feel deprived when it’s a Thursday – a workday in my world – and I’m not supposed to serve people. Am I a workaholic? No. I don’t work to the exclusion of all other experiences and relationships. I just don’t like being told, “You can’t go to work today, na-na-na-boo-boo.”
Number two – going to the gym. I don’t like “holiday hours” – I like going to the gym when I want to go to the gym. I don’t like “closed for Thanksgiving.” I don’t begrudge the staff at my gym their holiday, but I don’t like the inconvenience.
Number three – going to the library. Let’s tell the truth – I am a nerd. I had no idea how big a nerd I was until I had two teenage sons, who are cool, making my nerdiness all too apparent. But I really like the library. I’m a book guy. I get as much pleasure or more from my library card than I do from my credit cards. The library is closed on national holidays, Thanksgiving included. Grr.
Number four – going to the grocery store. I hate the mad crush in supermarkets the day before Thanksgiving. Who are all these people, anyway? Don’t they eat the rest of the year? No parking, lines out the door…and then the next day, it’s closed. Not cool. I operate on such a lizard brain level that if I want to go to the grocery store and get some stuff to eat in the morning, like every other morning, I don’t want to see that dreaded “Closed For Thanksgiving” sign.
Number five – driving carpool. I love my kids, but there’s nothing positive about them being home for four straight days and staring at video screens. When I suggest any other activity, it never ends well. Thursday through Sunday off means that they’ll log 60 hours of games. Or more.
I didn’t say “Going to the mall and getting a jump on Black Friday shopping.” It’s a national disgrace that the big box stores require their employees to cut short their Thanksgiving dinners so they can stand there and scan stuff that people could wait until Friday to buy. Or just buy online.
So call me a Thanksgiving Grinch. I don’t care. And if I need anybody to tell me how I’m supposed to feel on any other day of the year, aside from being told to be grateful on Thanksgiving, trust me. You’ll be the first to know.