The holiday season is just about here, a great couple of months for those who think gravy ought to be its own food group. But, even for my fellow gravy-heads out there, this can be an incredibly difficult time for those with strained familial relationships.
You may feel as though you have nowhere to go, or dread the place you know you will have to go. In any sense, it is why I firmly believe that, by the nature of the holiday, you should not be bound by tradition to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Let us take a step back to ask- what is the expressed purpose of Thanksgiving? One could argue that it is a bunch of propaganda to make us seem like we were way nicer than we actually were to Native Americans. I will not argue against that. But the alleged point of Thanksgiving is to reflect on the year that has passed and all of the things we are thankful for.
So why should our celebrations reflect obligation?
“Friendsgiving” has slowly taken over in the past few years, and for good reason- it is completely free from those obligations. Friendsgivings are built on the concept of choice, of being with people we know we want to be with, of being with the people we are- wait for it- thankful for.
And that’s not to say we should all abandon our families on Thanksgiving. At this particular stage in my life, I am incredibly thankful for the family I have. But that is not a universal experience.
Many people set off for home on Thanksgiving carrying a sense of dread, over what they will have to experience with their extended families. Maybe it is little things, like an argument that happened the year prior. Maybe there is a family member who drinks too much and makes the whole night a mess. Maybe there is a racist old man who annually feels the need to say some really terrible, off-color things.
At what point are we just doing it to ourselves?
I have heard these complaints a million times before. I have dished out these complaints a million times before. I have probably been at the center of a number of complaints a million times before. So if all we have for these events is complaints, why don’t we try to fix it? Why not change the dynamic to protect our own mental health and set a better tradition for the Thanksgivings that come later, so the next generation can feel safe to throw out those traditions and do what fulfills them best?
As our generation comes into its own, baby boomers have had a tendency to criticize our aspirations of self-fulfillment as being selfish, which is wholly unfair and frankly stupid. We were born into a vastly different world than them, one that is by many metrics much safer in a superficial sense but does not set us up for success in the same ways. So, we take what we can get. And while buying a house may be difficult for myself and my peers, we have full control over who we let into our homes.