Are You Truly Thankful on Thanksgiving?

Written by Deb Ng - November 21, 2010 6 Comments

I love my husband. It’s because I love him that we leave our home every Thanksgiving and spend two hours navigating the congested roads leading in to New York city to spend the day with his family. Now, don’t take this the wrong way, because I enjoy spending time with my husband’s family, but on Thanksgiving I’d rather be at home.

I know I’m not the only one.

I have a friend who is the product of divorced parents. Her husband is also the product of divorced parents. Each Thanksgiving and Christmas they have to spend equal time at four different households in order to keep the family peace. She doesn’t want to be at any of their houses, but she sucks it up and goes because it’s easier than explaining that she wants to stay home, darn it, and cook for her family or that the last thing she wants to do on a holiday is drive from house to house to house.

People who don’t leave the house for the holidays don’t really understand that some of us would also rather not leave our homes on the holidays. We enjoy entertaining or spending time with our families, but sometimes we’d like to handle the hosting, you know? To speak out is to break tradition and to try and suggest new traditions is unheard of and brands us as difficult. The kind of person who everyone whispers about behind her back because she doesn’t do things the way “the family” would do it.

Sometimes we do what’s easiest or what will hurt the least amount of feelings rather than do what we truly want.

We may be thankful about the usual gifts – family, a roof over our head and everything else we’re supposed to say – but I’m willing to bet some of us aren’t as happy to visit for the holidays as we would lead everyone to believe.

It’s not about the family, it’s about the plan

Again, this isn’t about liking or disliking inlaws or family members. It’s about keeping the family peace and not wanting to make waves because I’d rather cook my own damn turkey and make the sausage stuffing I love so much. I also want to be able to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine and not be the only one.  I would like for everyone to sit at the same table instead of grabbing their plates and heading to the different television sets around the house. If I’m going to have to sit in front of a television all day, I want to watch the shows I want to watch. I don’t like football and there are only so many cooking and home improvement shows I can sit through without reaching for the remote.

I want my own Thanksgiving. And Christmas for that matter.

This isn’t to say I have a bad time on the holidays, because I don’t.  I always bring my fun and try to enjoy myself to the fullest, even if the day isn’t what I had in mind. I play well with others, enjoy the conversation and help out as much as I’m allowed.  I chat and play board games and joke and laugh. And I enjoy the food because it’s good.

Sometimes, though, I wish others were more willing to change and adapt.

Am I thankful? Heck, yeah I am. I’m thankful that I have family to go to and spend time with on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m thankful that my son gets to spend time with grandparents and cousins. I’m thankful that my family is happy. But just once, I’d like to suggest everyone come here for a holiday without be greeted by total shocked silence. Just once, I’d like for someone to say, “Deb, it’s not fair that you have to drive 90 minutes every holiday to come here. Why don’t we visit you for a change?”  Just once, I’d like to not feel as if I’m difficult for not wanting to do the same thing as last year.

Read the Comments

6 Outstanding Responses to "Are You Truly Thankful on Thanksgiving?"

    Diana Hayes on November 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    We usually have two Thanksgivings – one at home, or with my brother in law nearby, and one with the whole big family. The smaller one is usually together at a table, and the other is sit where one can while the tv is showing football games.

    We also travel for holidays – but I claimed Easter. Some times it’s just 3 people, and others more, but we take what we can.
    This year the Thanksgiving holiday gathering is more than the usual few because we’re celebrating my mother in law’s 80th birthday, and for that we are truly Thankful.

    Zerrin on November 21, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! We kindly invite my parents or his mom to us on holidays, it’s better for us. We had a religious festival last week, and most of our friends went to their parents’ towns. We find it so tiring! I mean we work every time and when we have a break thanks to holiday, we just prefer being at home. We are lucky to have such parents as they never complain about coming. Being together is what matters, so the place shouldn’t be a problem. Wish you have your holiday in the way you like.

    Zerrin on November 21, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! We kindly invite my parents or his mom to us on holidays, it’s better for us. We had a religious festival last week, and most of our friends went to their parents’ towns. We find it so tiring! I mean we work every time and when we have a break thanks to holiday, we just prefer being at home. We are lucky to have such parents as they never complain about coming. Being together is what matters, so the place shouldn’t be a problem. Wish you have your holiday in the way you like.

    Jane Lebak on November 23, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Boundaries. Boundaries. It’s time for everyone who feels that, “Oh I need to keep the peace, so I’ll contort myself in knots” to just say no. To say, “I love you, but this year, we are not going to come for Thanksgiving/Christmas/Arbor day.”

    The fact is, it doesn’t keep the peace. A “peace” that’s preserved only by sacrificing yourself isn’t really peace. And if someone starts fighting with you because you’re looking out for your family, then you are not the one disrupting the peace.

    Let these other family members own their own feelings. Grandparents and parents will not die of horror if their children are not all assembled around the table. They may miss you. But sometimes, it’s okay to visit on another day, or just stay home. As long as you’re not going out of your way to hurt these people, it’s fine to say, “Yes, I understand you’re going to be upset that I won’t be there. But regardless, I won’t be there. I’m sorry you are upset.” And then leave it at that. You’re not *making* them upset. They’re upsetting themselves. And again, if they’d start a war over mandatory attendance, then going isn’t keeping the peace anyhow. It’s just forestalling war.

    People who don’t respect your family’s needs aren’t worth sacrificing your family’s needs for. Ironic, isn’t it?

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Deborah Ng, Cookerati. Cookerati said: New post: Are You Truly Thankful on Thanksgiving?: I love my husband. It’s because I love him that we l… http://bit.ly/avbf3f [...]

  2. By On Being Not Thankful - Kommein on November 23, 2010 at 5:56 am

    [...] not thankful I have to drive two hours to my mother in laws house every year, for both Christmas and Thanksgiving, when I really just want to stay home. I enjoy the company and [...]

The Kitchen is Open - Leave a comment!

... and if you want a gravatar, grab one here!

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *