Thanksgiving used to be my least favorite holiday by far. In school it just seemed like an unnecessary interruption in my life. Why not just add a few extra days to xmas break? With my parents divorced and not in a real friendly way, it was a supremely awkward holiday. Who celebrates what when? If I stay too long at one place I risk insulting the other, and leaving too early does the same. And don't forget the mandatory mass. Not that I'm against going to other people's religious services, but it's complicated when your mom's a Catholic who desperately wants to believe you are too, yet your Buddhist principles won't let you disrespect the Church by going to Communion (it's a Catholic thing) so things get all complicated. And that was just the beginning.
As you can imagine, Thanksgiving is the high holy day of awkwardness for vegans. Family members used to either go overboard trying to accommodate my eating choices, resulting in embarassment and apologies all around when I can't eat anything they made because they thought dairy products were vegan (and I can't even cheat a little to be nice, even if I wanted to, because I am also wildly allergic to dairy. Eating it would only make things even more awkward as I projectile vomited all over the little ceramic pilgrim centerpiece.) or they'd be annoyed as hell with me, taking my veganism as a personal affront, and spent the entire dinner saying things like, (Quote) "You know this vegetarian thing you're doing in just stupid, right?" While I smile and nod politely wishing I could just sink to the center to the earth. Either way, I end up spending the the whole time wishing everyone would please please just ignore me. I love it when people cook for me, but it's not mandatory, and skipping a meal never killed anyone. Neither has pushing a banana and a scoop of cranberry sauce around your plate trying to make it look like you're feasting, but not eating feels a lot less weird.
Now that I'm significantly more independent and the tables have turned so thereare more vegans in the family than otherwise, Thanksgiving is a whole lot easier and has become something I actually look forward to. The last couple of years, I even dare to call it "relaxing". I had a great time hanging out with mom and Nicky (my brother) in Tallahassee, exploring the joys of Big Lots together, and kicking back with the inlaws in whatever small town they live in near Tampa, was pretty darn pleasant. My mother in law is also a crafty girl, so I even got some work done on my xmas projects. Can I go back now. Please? I sent out a bajillion thanksgiving cards (a set soon to be available on my Etsy site), made a ribbon/paper tree, finished a few presents which I can't show here because, well, my friends read this.
The highlights of the trip, for me, were getting to bring the dogs along (isn't Revco cute in his wee little stripey shirt?) and going to Disney World for a day. It killed me to have to leave with only half of the Magic Kingdom done, but you can see from the pic that I wasn't too upset about it. Surely we can come up with an excuse to go again. Jen, Alex, I'm looking at you.
So, I duno, I think I can honestly say Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays now. Tell that to the girl feeling guilty for secretly pulling full sticks of butter out of the mashed potatoes when her grandmother had turned around, the girl who got pinkeye from the stepmonster's mistreated Great Dane who was used to being punched in the face by a stepbrother that girl was pretty sure would stalk or shoot her one day, the same girl who showed up for a second Thanksgiving dinner only to hear, "You look so disgusting, I can't even look at you, now get in the car or we'll be late for church."
I don't think she'd believe it. Then again, I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds themselves trying to shake some of the holiday's less desirable traditions, memories, and all those things that look so nice in TV commercials. Go ahead, click that comment box and purge your Thanksgiving nightmares and weirdness. I dare you.