A long time ago, in a land far far away (California), when I was about, oh… eleven years old or so, my dearest mother came home from work one day and announced that she “worked [her] ass off all day and was damned well not going to bust [her] ass to cook for us kids.” So that was the time when my sister — bless her heart — and I learned how to cook. We started out with canned meals and frozen dinners. You know, Chef-Boyardee and the like. But those got old really fast so we moved up to boxed food, Mac ‘n Cheese and hot dogs. By the time I was twelve, I was a full fledged cook. I could cook pretty much anything. It was survival really, because my mom meant what she said, she wasn’t cooking for us — ever. And that meant holidays too.
I know this was about when I was eleven because that was just before she married our stepfather. And I know that I was cooking holiday meals when she married him because that’s when we started celebrating the holidays again, with all of the trimmings. And guess who had to cook the food? I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t my mom. At first it was me and my sister, but eventually, by the time I was fifteen, it was me. I kicked everyone out. I could have a full fledged American Thanksgiving dinner on the table by two o’clock, with relish trays and dessert and if you were late, too bad so sad, you’re eating cold food because I’m not waiting for your happy ass. Cooking a big dinner for twenty people is hard! I and made no bones about how difficult it was that I was slaving away in the kitchen for their enjoyment. None of that, “oh, it’s nothing. I enjoy it.” business. I looked like I spent most of the morning in the kitchen.
So anyway, when I married and moved in with my husband, I went from cooking for seven daily to cooking for two daily. That was a huge change! And I went from cooking holiday dinners for twenty people to cooking for… two. Yeah. But all was not lost! The first husband was in the Navy, so, knowing I’d probably cook too much for the holidays — any holiday, including Thanksgiving — he would invite coworkers stationed away from home, affectionately known as “orphans”, over to the house and we’d host the holidays for them. He did this whenever I made lasagna too, because you simply cannot make lasagna for two people. It just isn’t done. So we always had a crowd for all of the holidays and for lasagna. Now, I don’t host formal dinners. I do put on a spread, but it’s mostly: Dinner will be served at this time, so if you want the food hot, be there by then. Otherwise it’s “The food’s over there, help yourself and find a place to sit down and eat.” No decorations, no special music, just food and conversation. I mean, come on, making all of that food is work enough.
Gradually though, we had four kids, so I eventually started cooking for six again, and we had the traditional family dinners for holidays with a few strays here and there. Of course, divorce and life made things like holidays not so traditional in our family all too soon. This means that over the years, Thanksgiving became less and less of a “holiday” for me. Looking back, I think that I’ve pretty much always considered it as more of a social obligation. Yeah, I did enjoy cooking and having people over (kinda, I’m seriously and introvert, but I wanted to make my first husband happy, and later my friends happy) but honestly Thanksgiving has always seemed to me as something that my society (America) tells me I must do on this day.
When you come down to it, Thanksgiving is fundamentally a Christian holiday because it’s meant to be a day when we as a nation stop what we’re doing and give thanks to God for blessing us with whatever we’ve been blessed with this past year (originally, good crops). I’m not Christian. I’m Agnostic. Besides, this whole idea of waiting for one day or even one month of the year to gather around, feast and give thanks has always been so foreign to me. Even when I was the one preparing the feast. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and family, but having this obligation to sit down and play nice with them not once but twice (Christmas is right around the corner) at the end of the year is stressful to say the very least. So over the years Thanksgiving has become less of a holiday to me. I’m sure if I got the urge to host a traditional Thanksgiving meal at my house I could certainly put on the hog and lay out a mean spread like I have in years past. After all, I had a lot of practice. I mean, even when I was single, I’d cook for my roommates and our friends.
But for now, it’s just me and the hubs. We’re having sandwiches and chips. And we’re gonna play video games in our pjs all day. And you know what? We’re gonna enjoy this long weekend because we like sandwiches and chips and we like playing video games in our pjs. So we’ll enjoy Thanksgiving our way, and let the rest of the nation celebrate it their way. I am honestly glad and thankful for my husband and that I live in a nation where we do have a day where so many can stop and feast and “give thanks” for what they have — it is a privilege that denied to many in this world and I am fully aware of that. So don’t think that I’m ungrateful. However, I’ve had my share of big gatherings for now. Y’all can have ’em. ^_^