Last Saturday night, my family sat down and watched videos from our past holidays. It was so sweet to watch the expressions on my children’s faces as they giggled at the film from Christmas morning 2005. There were American Girl Dolls, Care Bears, stationery sets and ice skates. I have to admit that I got pretty misty-eyed looking at that screen and hearing little voices chirping “Santa IS real”.
Fast forward to 2013. The sweet angelic voices have turned into shrill yapping noisy debates about who stole who’s iPhone charger. This is not our greatest Norman Rockwell moment.
Even so, I love the holiday season. We celebrate everything from Hanukkah to Kwanza. I believe our children should be exposed to all cultures in an effort to help them understand, appreciate and respect all people. In our home, you will find several homemade menorahs, five Christmas trees, African-American art and Kwanza lights as well as a butt-load of Department 56 villages. It’s a freaking winter wonderland of diversity up in here. Even though it sounds magical, it is in no way a Hallmark Holiday Season.
Like yours, this is a dysfunctional family. We run the gamut from “can’t wait to see you” to “don’t even invite them unless you plan on posting some bail”. I am here to tell you that there is no such thing as described on a Hallmark Card, so you can relax now. I will also add a sigh of relief since everyone I know would want to straight up murder that fake Hallmark family.
What is it about this season that makes rational people turn in to maniacs? I am so irritated when I see folks sleeping in tents in front of Best Buy and Kmart. There is absolutely nothing in there that requires that kind of senseless time commitment (however, I did see an advertisement for a 50” TV at Wal-Mart for $288, but I digress). Last year, I had a friend phone me from Toys R Us. She was standing in line for a toy but didn’t know what the toy was. It was just a line full of excited people, so she got in it. This, mind you, is an educated woman.
It’s re-goddamn-diculous. You can’t make it to a PTO meeting, but you are out at 1am, playing a sinister game of parking lot musical chairs, to get a deal on more stuff you probably don’t need. The holiday hypocrisy knows no bounds (except for that 50” TV deal. Wait. It’s probably not HD, so never mind).
The holiday season also has this creepy penchant for attempting to bring families together who don’t speak to each other 364 days of the year. I am here to tell you that it is perfectly acceptable for you to excuse yourself from this gathering. The Thanksgiving anxiety of either cooking for a small army or sitting in the home of a virtual stranger for 6 hours is more than any of us should have to bear. I can’t think of a worse punishment (for yourself or for others that will have to endure your presence) than to be thrust into an uncomfortable intimate situation such as a holiday dinner.
Here’s my advice to you. If you don’t see these people during the rest of the year because you don’t have anything in common besides DNA, Thanksgiving is not the time to play catch up. Try spending some time when the stakes aren’t so high. Really, you don’t want your annual get together to be remembered by your hockey puck rolls and dry-as-dirt stuffing. This is most certainly accompanied by monotonous conversation about the weather and your surprise at how the kids have grown since you last saw them. Take a look over at the Kid’s Table. They aren’t happy with you either.
If you do have to sit at the awkward table and manage to expand the conversation, please try to stay away from religion and politics, unless you are like me and prefer to liven up dinner by bringing up these wonderful topics. I also enjoy ranking on my in-laws’ signature Buddig Beef cheese pimento ball thing that everyone raves over. I hate it, and I like making choking noises when anyone takes a cracker full. I also like to announce that I have bit down on an egg-shell in my deviled egg and perhaps cracked a tooth.
Personally, I would much rather have Thanksgiving with the people who mean the most to me. I like to actually look around the table and be thankful for those I see. I will save the days in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s for quick visits to extended family and friends. I like to call these visits the “Holiday Hit and Run”. You’re in, you’re out and it’s virtually painless.
Many people will tell you that life is short, but I believe that life is long. Try watching the clock this Thanksgiving at your third Cousin Betty’s house and tell me if that is not the truth.
I know you will not take my advice, and neither will I. Many of you will be picking through bins of junk at Wal-Mart like seagulls at an unattended beach picnic, while others suffer through dry turkey, cheap wine and bad conversation. I will, once again, rail on the freaky chipped beef appetizer while pretending to be astounded that children do get bigger in a year’s time.
Jesus Christ, what a season…