Living far away from my family for several years, I’ve learned that Thanksgiving is a holiday where people feel bad for you if you don’t have any specific plans. Like a stray puppy, friends come out of the woodwork ready to scoop you up, take you in, and feed you. And honestly, it’s pretty easy to let them.
Over the years, I’ve spent Thanksgiving in several different places with many different people. I’ve certainly had some lovely meals, but more notably, met some interesting people and found myself immersed in captivating family dynamics.
The hostess with her mother, mother-in-law, and aunt all crowded around her in the kitchen explaining different strategies for making the gravy taste better. The meal that included a choice of two soups, an appetizer, the biggest dessert buffet I’ve ever seen, and a maid to clean it all up. And the Friendsgiving that turned out to be a family Thanksgiving where a newly engaged couple’s polar-opposite parents were meeting for the first time.
Eating a holiday meal with another family can feel like traveling to a new country for dinner. Everything is so different, yet so familiar… Although human beings have a lot in common, families can be quite different in their cultural norms. That’s how Thanksgiving has turned into a sort of Epcot experience for me with surprising customs and unfamiliar food and people around every corner. It’s been delightful, but also somewhat exhausting.
Although most people like some variety in their lives, holidays aren’t necessarily the time you opt for it. Holidays are a time to do the same thing you’ve done on that day for years, usually with many of the same people. There’s comfort and nostalgia in celebrating the same way year after year. Even if there’s nothing particularly great about the way you celebrate.
For me, a great Thanksgiving has to include a morning run, watching the Lions lose (er, play) on TV, and eating stuffing with cranberries in it. There’s nothing quintessentially magical about those things, but once a year, they’re magical to me. This year, my husband and I will be doing all of those things – just the two of us. (Well, and a few thousand other people at the Turkey Day 5K/8K.)
I’m thankful for the invitations I’ve had to crash other families’ Thanksgivings, and I’m also thankful for the opportunity to pretty much do nothing this year. Soaking up some culture isn’t a bad thing, but it’s just not in the cards this Thanksgiving.
Amelia Forczak is a Best-Selling Ghostwriter and the Owner of Pithy Wordsmithery, a company that provides strategic ghostwriting, marketing, and consulting for authors and businesses. Pithy Wordsmithery works with clients to ensure the message they are conveying through their website, branding, marketing materials, presentations, and social media is the best possible message for their unique business.