Monday, November 26, 2012

Belated Thanksgiving

I’m back on American soil. Oy Vey. That last little push of traveling, the part that actually gets you back home, is always the most exhausting.

But I am slowly catching up on my real life. Two weeks ago I cleaned off my desk. Today I returned to work and a desk, a chair, and cubicle filled with new piles of work. But I have also been catching up on Thanksgiving posts on favorite blogs, 366 new items in my reader, help! 

Holidays are becoming more and more passive aggressive mixed bags for me.  Mattress sales, and Black Fridays, and Cyper Mondays and wars on Christmas and perfectly decorated homes and holiday Facebook statuses that make me want to punch people in the face (that’s the passive aggressive part). Are we really just marking our days off out of the year by sales and excuses to sleep in and eat? Are holidays just another reason to show off our competitive perfectionism? And even more blunt: are the “true meanings” of holidays even true anymore?

I haven’t had a true Thanksgiving Dinner in 6 years, 7 years with my true blue family. Maybe that isn’t entirely true. There was that one time at that diner on the way to Virginia Beach, maybe something similar to the harvest feast on a boat in Savannah, Georgia and didn't The General’s mom  make a big dinner when she was in town a few years ago (or was that Easter? I remember ham, but I don’t like turkey, so maybe someone felt sorry for me and brought ham, which reminds me of the book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,  with the wise men bearing ham and the angel shouting Shazaaammm!)   Maybe I should start over with this train of thought, since I am way off the tracks and out of the boat.

Thanksgiving really isn’t about the food.  

The first Thanksgivings weren’t about food,  they were about survival. We survived. Against the odds, and our poor planning and judgment, we are alive. We could have been crushed by life this year, we could of given up, we could of died, but we didn’t.  Thank God.  And that I can related to. Looking back on this year (I know, I know, broken record), there were some pretty dark days that I seriously didn’t think I would make it through.  But somehow I took that next breath and then another.  I survived. I am alive. Sometimes there is nothing in the whole wide world more comforting than the steady repetition of your lungs filling up and releasing the breath of life.

And how did our early American friends celebrate their survival?  Coming together and breaking bread.  How simple and beautiful is that?  I may not have had Thanksgiving turkey and dressing in many years, but I have shared a meal with some combination of friends and family, almost every year.  Sometimes that meal is Chinese food on the beach, sometimes it is steak tartare at the foot of a castle,  and this year it was pumpkin tortellini at a trattoria in Florence, Italy.  The food changes, the people change, the location changes, but coming together celebrating our survival, that has become a constant. There is a part of me that yearns for the traditional big family Thanksgiving Dinner with homemade name cards and naps and leftovers afterwards, but a greater part of me is content with my roaming simplified feast, and the gratitude of, above everything else;  my life, blemishes, scars and all.

Although, I think, stuffing and mashed potatoes and pie will find their way to my table this week. Hmm . . .potatoes.

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