While exchanging pleasantries in a place where men are forced to face certain realities, a colleague and I reflected on our recently passed break. About two short sentences each into the conversation, he said, “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.”
This particular colleague is half my age, twice my size and of different ethnic persuasion. I don’t know what differences there might be in our preferences, prejudices and predispositions but I do know this: we concur on the matter of favorite holidays.
Now for you scoffers, scorners and would-rather-be-aloners, go ahead and get it out there. “Of course it’s your favorite holiday; you’re men! All you have to do is eat, belch and watch football.” Now, I’m not sure exactly what the resentment might be but I suspect that a key factor is a failure to grasp just how much effort is involved in properly watching a football game. And besides, I did make fruit salad and I actually washed dishes on Thanksgiving. Back in ’04, I think…
But even with the obvious and irrefutable gender chasm in regard to responsibilities, I think there’s more to it. I think deep down underneath the few layers of social complexity and undeniable unfairness, there’s another aspect. I think it has to do with not worrying about others’ reactions.
“Here’s my fruit salad. If you like fruit salad, you’re gonna love my fruit salad. If you don’t like fruit salad, there’s mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade rolls and green bean casserole. Oh, and pumpkin pie.” Here it is, help yourself to some or just pass it on to the next person. Hard to screw that up.
Everybody that wants to can bring something they’re good at, enjoy what they like and not be forced to have any of anything they don’t want. Eat till you’re full, stuffed or just until you’ve had enough to get you to the next meal. Up to you. In between, visit with your cousins, laugh with your siblings, share stories, watch the kids play touch football, stand around in the kitchen and listen to the others, watch the smiles. Heck, you can even share some tears and still not ruin the holiday. Remember those who can’t be here, tell “that story” one more time and realize that even without them here, it’s still good to get together and make a few new memories.
Gratitude, good food and being together. Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. It seems possible it might be a better way to celebrate faith, hope and love than all that hullabaloo that we put ourselves through at Christmas. I’m pretty sure nobody has to worry much about me being disappointed at Thanksgiving and real sure I don’t worry so much about disappointing others.
And that’s the real reason why I enjoy Thanksgiving so much.