It’s not really supposed to work like this.
I mean, when you fail to post on a blog for two years, I’m pretty sure what you’re required to do by some unspoken agreement is pretend the abandoned blog has never actually existed, go create a new one, and proceed to announce the existence of the new one with ever-so-slightly abashed fanfare. I, however, am far too lazy to create a whole new blog that will probably not really be all that different. There’s not even any real guarantee that I’ll not abandon this one within a few days; months if I’m lucky.
And, if one is going to return to a blog one hasn’t been posting to in some time, there’s supposed to be an apologetic ‘Wha’ had happen was,’ type paragraph. I rarely find those very interesting, so I won’t subject you to it. Also, I am lazy, and not in the mood for self-flagellation of that, or any, variety.
So. Recapping Thanksgiving. Let’s talk about food. Sort of.
Thanksgiving is kind of a weird holiday for me. It’s too late for a last-harvest feast, and too early for a midwinter feast, both of which, on their own, would evoke a sort of sympathetic magic “much food=much plenty for the year” sort of thing. It’s gained a sort of “Intensive Family Holiday” sheen, but for me it’s capped on both sides by family death remembrances. Add to this the fact that I tend not to much care for the “traditional” dishes, and I end up being mostly pretty ambivalent about the whole thing.
But, ambivalence or no, I get two days off for it. That, and a heaping helping of tacit cultural expectation.
We all know the expectations surrounding Thanksgiving: one is expected to spend it with one’s family, the more dysfunctional the better, or with chosen family if your family is too dysfunctional for that sort of thing. Usually some number among the group (usually men) will watch football, while some number among the group (usually women) will cook, and some other number among the group (children/pets) will be underfoot. And there will be absolute MOUNTAINS of food.
Most of these expectations are relatively mutable, except for that last. If there are not MOUNTAINS of food, you have failed at Thanksgiving.
To which I say: Fuck. That. Noise.
For Thanksgiving day, which was just Mr. The Jeff, myself, and Dragon Age, I made a duck, a package of wild rice, enough salad for two people, and a pie plate of apple crisp. That’s IT. Extravagant – we wouldn’t normally have duck – but modest. He is not really “leftover people,” and I am only marginally so. I have a little bit of leftovers for lunch this week, a good amount of duck fat, and a carcass to make stock from.
Friday, which has become “Momsgiving,” wherein we eat Thanksgiving dinner with my mom and pretend we’re going to put Christmas decorations up for her but never really get around to it, was also an extravagantly modest affair. I destroyed her kitchen in pursuit of cooking acorn squash, roasted mushrooms, a bitter spiced salad, and the worlds most expensive roast beef. We joked that for what the roast cost, we should be able to prep it and then just show it the flame, and it should perfectly cook itself. The process was a little more involved than that, but it did turn out well. Mom made a pumpkin cheesecake. A little bit of leftovers, easily divvied up, and that was it.
And that’s enough. Which is really, to me, what Thanksgiving should be about. Having enough. Not being weighted down with blessings that we need to be thankful for – there is a point at which plenty begins to require a gratitude which ceases to bring us joy because it becomes an unceasing obligation. “Yet another thing to be thankful for, can we please be done now? No? Damn.”
Don’t get me wrong – gratitude is good. About three, four times a year we get another study or demonstration of the fact that expressing gratitude makes people happier in themselves. But sometimes, it’s too much. There are times when it becomes an obligation to be grateful for things over which we feel we didn’t really need, didn’t ask for, and sometimes didn’t even want. There are times, for certain people, when it feels like an obligation to be happy, to be happier than we are, or are perceived to be. I get a little tired of that, personally.
We all had enough, and that’s what we hope for, through the darkness of the winter, enough. We don’t need mountains of food, mountains of blessings. We don’t need to outdo each other with how involved our cooking duties will be, with how much food we’ll need to prepare for how many people. We don’t need to compete to prove that we are most blessed, and therefore more loved, by family or god or the universe or whoever. Just enough. There are millions of people for whom “enough” is an aspiration, not a reality. Maybe we shouldn’t get quite so carried away with how much more we have than they do.