Thanksgiving, I don’t like you. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I used to like you quite a lot, but I was younger then, and more easily impressed.
When I was young my parents used to load my brother and I and all of our luggage into the car and we’d spend four or five hours on the road heading to my Grandmother’s house. Once there, other relatives would slowly arrive until my Grandmother’s house was full to bursting seams, and there we’d spend Thanksgiving.
In time the gathering outgrew her kitchen so it was moved to the basement where card table after card table would be set up, end to end to end. The tables would be covered to stretch out like one singular impossibly long table that spanned the long end of the room, and chairs and benches and step stools would be gathered from all around until there was enough seating for everyone.
My grandmother and female relatives would busy themselves in the kitchen with the Thanksgiving meal, and other family members would be put to work carrying bowls and platters and baskets over flowing with food down the basement steps until everything edible had been transferred from the kitchen to the basement.
Finally, everyone would sit down, a prayer would be said, and we’d all begin to eat. And eat. And eat. And eat. And eat.
Thanksgiving was fun then. During those visits all I really had to do was play and eat. Visit with my cousins, hang out with my Aunts and Uncles, play cards or go to Bingo with my Grandmother. And eat.
Thanksgiving now though, it’s just so much work, none of which seems worth the trouble. For a holiday, a day off, it’s not a day “off” at all. Thanksgiving is HOURS spent in the kitchen, bent over a hot stove, basting the turkey, blending the mashed potatoes, thickening the gravy… Shooing people from the kitchen because it’s too small and they are only in the way. Setting the table with the good china, the kind that can’t go in the dishwasher, the kind that has to be washed by hand after the meal. And then eating the entire meal, the one that took all day long to prepare, eating it in twenty or thirty minutes flat and thinking, “This is it? We’re all done? Now what?” The men all wander off to watch football and fall asleep on the sofa, the floor, the recliner, their bellies full of turkey. The women stay back, cleaning up the dishes, the pots and pans, putting away the leftovers. And it never fails, the second the leftovers are put away, the men are awake, looking for more, not hungry really, just awake now, bored, in between games.
Admittedly, I haven’t had to actually pull together a full Thanksgiving meal at my house in many years. We usually go to my in-laws house and except for an occasional green bean casserole or a bowl of cranberry sauce, I don’t have to cook too much. And for that, at least, I’m thankful. But I still can’t help feeling like the holiday is all too much effort, the large gatherings and the travel and the cooking, the cooking, the cooking, just to replicate a meal that was eaten hundreds of years ago by a bunch of Pilgrims and Indians.
And that’s why Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday… next to Easter…