I’m sure we’ve all been there at least once in our lives. Your sitting with your family and the sudden realization that you’re actually related to these people seeps in. You hope that you are adopted because it’s the only logical explanation why you’re so odd compared to the rest of them – or rather, you’re not odd enough. I’ll admit, there are times that I hoped I was adopted. But the evidence of my biological attachment to these people was damning. I looked like my older brother when he was a kid; I resembled my mother; I have my father’s chubby cheeks, inability to grow actual facial hair and his temper. The creator or mother nature has one hell of a sense of humor when it comes to choosing who shares our DNA.
And for those who know me, I’m not big on family. But once upon a time, I was. Not that I’m saying all I ever wanted to do was spend time with my family – no, nothing like that. It was just at one point I looked forward to the holidays, Thanksgiving especially.
Thanksgiving meant cooking at grandmothers, starting at the crack of dawn. My uncle Danny and his family coming down from Midland to spend it with us. And me actually tolerating my family – for a day’s worth of feeling related to these strangers. That was tradition, anyway, up until 1997 when my grandmother passed away in October. That shattered my idea of what the holiday should be.
Uncle Danny stopped by a two more times after her death before announcing he wasn’t going to spend Thanksgiving with us anymore. What followed was what I called the dark years. I spent Thanksgiving with an ex-girlfriend (who wasn’t an ex at the time, obviously) but I was the stranger again. There was no attachment. My mother, who worked for an elderly lady at the time, spent Thanksgiving working on other people’s dinner. And I would spend it listening to radio and drinking cough and cold medicine for a cheap buzz.
Frustrated with the fact that I felt even more distant from the people I should have some biochemical bond with, I announced one day, a few years ago, that we were a goddamn family and should start acting like one. We had our first Thanksgiving with a motley crew of individuals including my immediate family, Joey, Jyg, Izzy and (possibly) Ruben. This idea bled into having X-mas together as a family, with yet another meal.
Now there are three brothers and each needed to do something. It was agreed upon that Martin, the oldest, would have Thanksgiving, I, the youngest, would have X-mas and Jay, the middle child, would have New Year‘s. That way we all had to deal with each other three times a year and enjoy it. Then the rat incident happen and our oven died. So Jay consumed X-mas as well, though I would provide the main course.
This year, Martin’s wife announced she wouldn’t be doing Thanksgiving this year. The reason was a long term struggle that I had known about and kept to myself, for the most part. The marriage was crumbling and she saw no reason for it anymore. Fine, I can take the helm of Thanksgiving and Jay can have the other two holidays, main course included.
So where we are again. At the beginning of it all. Thanksgiving crumbled and I fear X-mas will follow suit (New Year’s is safe as my family tends to be filled with raging alcoholics – with the exception of me and my mother). What was my foundation of normalcy is now the tombstone upon its grave.
I might not be a family guy, but I know the value that should be placed in one. Sadly, I might be the only one who sees this now. In this family, anyway.
- How to Write Like a Cartoonist (online.wsj.com)
- Favorite Family Thanksgiving Sides (frugalupstate.com)
- 40% of Americans cutting Thanksgiving fat (money.cnn.com)
- How to Trim the Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner (money.usnews.com)