First, to all my readers who don’t live in the United States: Happy Thursday!
Second, here in the U.S. it’s Thanksgiving, a holiday often observed by stressing out while gathering with family, eating too much, and trying not to get into arguments with your racist uncle. We are told it is to commemorate a feast shared by the pilgrims (who we are assured came to the new world in search of religious freedom) and the Native Americans who welcomed them to these shores; while we sweep under the rug the fact that those pilgrims did not seek freedom, but rather wanted to impose a theocracy where they forced people to abide by their beliefs, that they only survived as long as they did because the Native Americans took pity on this group of malcontents who didn’t know anything about agriculture, and how eventually we stole the native’s land, massacred the women and children, made deals we later refused to keep, and then destroyed a significant amount of carefully curated land (driving many animal and plant species to extinction).
For a lot of us—specifically queer people—it is a doubly-stressful holiday. When we were closeted it was an annual reminder that many (if not all) of our relatives didn’t love us for who we are, but rather they love a facade we wore in self-defense from the homophobic beliefs of society and the self-loathing that society instilled. After we come out of the closet, it is the annual reminder that our queer selves are tolerated at best. We are expected to smile and sit quietly while outrageous and hateful things are said about people like ourselves and those we love. And if we commit the sin of letting that plastered-on smile slip and express an opinion of our own, we’re expected to apologize and agree that our lives, fears, and aspirations are not fit topics for polite conversation.
We used to spend alternating holidays with my Mom and the gaggle of relatives that live near her—Thanksgiving one year, Christmas the next. While then celebrating the other holiday at home. The last time we did that was the Thanksgiving right after the 2016 election. We knew it was going to be more stressful than usual, so we had planned to cut the length of visit shorter than usual.
It was worse than we thought. Instead of just having one or two people casually making racist and related comments, and just about everyone occasionally quoting a Fox News talking point or something a televangelist said, it seemed like everyone had turned into the racist uncle. Since then, we’ve stayed home for both holidays. Several days before Christmas (since I get a ton of paid-time-off from my work, I always have a few extra days in December), I drive down to deliver presents to the relatives there. I spend most of the day with Mom. I visit at least briefly with folks while I drop things off. And something about it not being the actual holiday makes everyone less likely to start spouting off their religious talking points.
So far, no one has come out and asked me if we’re skipping the holidays on purpose. I suspect it’s only a matter of time. But for now, this seems to work.
It will just be the two of us for Thanksgiving again this year. And I know I already have more food planned than we could eat in a single day. My husband keeps pointing out that we’ll just have leftovers for a few days.
Enough about that. Without further ado, here are some of the things I’m thankful for:
- my smart, kind, sexy, hard-working husband
- pickled foods
- people who help other people
- living in the future
- all the hummingbirds, chickadees, juncos, sparrows, finches, and Stellar Jays that visit my veranda a birdfeeder
- let’s not forget the crows!
- great ideas suggested by friends, such as the person who told me the secret that a separate squirrel-feeder stocked with pumpkin seeds will keep the squirrels from wasting most of the birdseed while going after the parts they like
- flowers that decide to bloom again during the coldest week of weather we’ve had this fall
- friends who will watch football with me and don’t blink an eye at my screaming at the TV during the game
- modern medical science
- people who fill the world with joy
- sci fi books and the authors who imagine those many futures
- misty grey mornings
- people who know you so well that when they find weird things amazing things (like combination bendy-straws/cocktail umbrellas, for instance) that they realize you would love them
- people who vote
- people who make art or stories or music
- NaNoWriMo writing buddies
- the magical piece of glass I can carry around in my pocket that contains all my friends (you call it an iPhone, I call it magic!)
- people who love
- the squirrels that visit our veranda—even that troublemaker that I call Crazy Ivan
- kittens and puppies and tigers and otters and mousies
- people who fix things
- my bananas, sometimes infuriating relatives (who I’m sure find me even more bewildering than I ever do them)
- not having to spend the holiday with (especially) the most infuriating relatives again this year
- my sweet, clever, ultra-capable, cheerful, long-suffering husband (who definitely deserves to be on this list twice!)
- fantasy books and the authors who spin such beautiful marvels
- people who love things so much that they feel compelled create fan works
- fuzzy socks and warm slippers
- all my incredible friends—who are talented, giving, kind, funny, accomplished, and clearly the most patient people in the world, because they put up with me!