November 27, 2014

"I thought if I held on to that bird, the rest would follow. But over time..."

"... I could see the strain on everyone. Older parents with new partners means that not all parties are thrilled to be spending Thanksgiving in the company of that person’s family rather than their own.... And even if everyone is willing to look past broken relationships and accept the emerging new ones across all generations, it doesn’t mean that this unity of purpose — a meal together at Thanksgiving — is necessarily a good thing. There are, for one thing, too many people now. Too many families. Because if my girls want to include mom and dad and their partners, what of the families of their husbands?... This year, I understand that my kids are bearing the burden of a family holiday together. They’re trying too hard to be with everyone in some fashion over a period of very few days allotted to that purpose. It seems to me that the kindest parents are the ones who stay to the side and let the ball fall away from their court sometimes. Maybe even oftentimes. And so this year, I tossed the bird out the window, so to speak..."

Writes Nina Camic (my colleague) in the NYT.

ADDED: I love when doing nothing — especially when it avoids a lot of effort — amounts to the higher path. Virtue in not acting. That applies to a lot more than Thanksgiving. As for Thanksgiving, I always appreciated it when my sons' father wanted them over. Thanksgiving is the last weekend of the semester, and there follows a lovely, long winter break. Thanksgiving is precisely the weekend when I am not looking for more of a workload. So I was glad to step back and let the ex-husband have the boys over. If I got extra points — kindness credit — for letting go, that was nice, but I was always openly grateful for the relief. I was glad to do nothing. It's Thanksgiving, and as they say — and I truly mean it: Thanks for nothing!

51 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

I cooked a Turkey (or actually a double breast butterflyed over dressing) 2 weeks ago.

Today, we're executing what has become a holiday tradition (driven by my wife) for my small family. Going out for dinner to a local favorite.

http://www.laubergechezfrancois.com/

The wife is going to fix Riesling Chicken on Friday, and I'll jump in with my usual weekend favs.

http://muffintopsbaking.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/dsc5991.jpg

Ann Althouse said...

Meade is saying: "That's how I feel about Christmas... What do you want for Christmas? Nothing!"

Ann Althouse said...

"Thanks for nothing!" is my new "nothing" slogan to go with my old one: "Better than nothing is a high standard."

john said...

Eating French on OUR Thanksgiving day? How patriotic is that?

Ron said...

just for you...double nothing!

traditionalguy said...

Thanksgiving is best seen as the one day a year that every activity ceases except resting and eating. It is our true Sabbath Day. Days of preparation time is behind us. The world stops what it does and there is a silence.

Then the L tryptophan in the turkey does its thing so we doze off through football games.

Stopping traveling duties that Nina ceased is the final thing to make it a perfect day.

Meade said...

Thanks, Ron. That means everything to me.

john said...

I've been to Thanksgiving dinners that were a lot like this.

(Movie was a hoot.)

Bob R said...

One of the best Thanksgivings my wife and I ever had was our first year in Madison in 1984. We didn't have the time or money to go back east for a short holiday with our relatives, so it was our first Thanksgiving with just the two of us. We cooked a turkey on Wednesday and spent the weekend lying around, watching football (Doug Flutie's Hail Mary over Miami), doing nothing. Nothing is a high standard indeed.

Laslo Spatula said...

Remember that on Thanksgiving there are a lot of lonely young women out there, lonely young women who would be ever thankful for an emotional 'drumstick' during this holiday season. Some of them are in strip clubs.

Johanna Lapp said...

Five years ago, I hosted T-Day for an assortment of fellow students with nowhere else to go. They had no idea what they were eating, which was great because I had no idea what I was cooking. I bought a sheet of plywood to make my bed a buffet table.

Incredibly Mean Girl called our guest list Ken, Lonny, Mahomet, Jagdish, Sidney and Clayton, and I had to Google to get the reference.

There are bigger problems on Thanksgiving than too much family.

Laslo Spatula said...

I mean, it's Thanksgiving, you're wearing only a g-sting and dancing your professional best, yet all the men have one eye on the football game. Remember: when you are at the strip club today it is the stripper's Thanksgiving, too.

Gahrie said...

We've actually just started doing Thanksgiving at my house. (no one wants to go to my brother's, and Mom just turned 69) It went well last year, and I'm hopeful for this year.

Gahrie said...

Johanna:

That was classic. I hope you gave bonus style points....

If I had a child do that I would cry tears of pride.

Laslo Spatula said...

And, yes: the strippers on Thanksgiving have heard all the variations on "stuffing". "Breast Meat," too. Also: "thighs. And that thing about the temperature checker on the turkey popping out like a nipple. It is not their first naked Thanksgiving rodeo.

Deirdre Mundy said...

We just got over the stomach flu and all have some horrible cough, so we're having 'quarantine Thanksgiving.' Instead of sharing our disease with the extended family, it's just the 8 of us.

We already had most of the ingredients on hand, because we'd bought them on sale for another 'fancy dinner' at some other point.

So, we have TG with no schedule and no company. Which means my big 3 get to help cook. We don't watch football, so it's board games.

I have a feeling they'll remember this laid-back Thanksgiving as one of the best.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Johanna- I cooked Easter dinner for a bunch of students with no where to go, once. (I was just out of college, had to work, couldn't travel)--- It's been about 15 years, and they all still remember it fondly.

When you feed people, you make them happy.

libertariansafetyguy said...

With both mine and my wife's parents divorced, it's about impossible to keep all the parents and extended family happy on the holidays. I also travel for my business about 10-11 weeks per quarter. Needless-to-say, not my favorite time of year.

Laslo Spatula said...

Bleak: being a stripper at a topless club at Thanksgiving.

Bleaker: being a stripper at an all-nude club on Thanksgiving.

Depressing: being the music DJ at a strip club on Thanksgiving. At least on Christmas there are an assortment of Christmas songs you can play for the strippers to grind to. Thanksgiving, though: no real good Thanksgiving songs. "Free Bird" is just too long a song for a pole dance -- by the end the poor stripper is reduced to playing topless air guitar. So: "Pour Some Sugar On Me." Again.

I am Laslo.

Original Mike said...

I love nothing.

The Drill SGT said...

john said...
Eating French on OUR Thanksgiving day? How patriotic is that?


Slow or Rude? :)

I don't think of Thanksgiving as a patriotic holiday. Read between the lines. It's just two of us and I want to make my wife happy. Not cooking on TG makes her happy...

enough said...

Laslo Spatula said...

At the strip club there is always a stripper who took a year of ballet training when she was twelve, and so thinks she is better than everyone else.

If your child is taking ballet classes at age twelve remember that the odds are she is much more likely to end up a stripper rather than a ballet dancer.

And now you have to go to the strip club to share Thanksgiving with her.

And now Mom and Step-Dad are there at the strip club, and so the stripper ho took ballet classes at age twelve is self-conscious and timid, and as a result earns very little tips, so now she can't pay her share of this months rent. Plus, Step-Dad is watching a little too intently.

Anyway, now -- to make rent -- she has to consider giving a blow-job to that creepy guy who always brings her candy.

Sometimes there is never enough Listerine to wash away the taste of this Thanksgiving.

I am Laslo.




Laslo Spatula said...

The creepy guy who brings her candy: this is now his best Thanksgiving ever. And now he will bring candy AND flowers every time she works. And leave love notes under the windshield-wiper of her old Volvo in the parking lot. This might even be the First Day of the Rest of His Life.

He has always known there is a Special Connection he shares with the stripper who took ballet lessons at age twelve, and now it has come True. All those weeks and months of secretly following her home to the apartment complex by the airport: he will not need to hide in the bushes any longer.

In fact, maybe he should be there, waiting for her to come home, with some Chinese take-out just for them. And candles. Must remember to bring candles. And not the birthday cake candles that have been in the kitchen drawer for the last seven years: real candles, the kind that smell of cinnamon and strawberries, women like those.

It is time to make Christmas plans. Unless she is Jewish. OK either way.

I am Laslo.

Michael K said...

My wife and I had big Thanksgiving dinners for assorted family and than we divorced 25 years ago. This year, we are back together and will have assorted family, including our daughter. She is ecstatic her parents are back together after 25 years abut warned me. "Dad, you do the cooking. You are a better cook than mom." She lived with me for five years after the divorce.

Laslo Spatula said...

How did it go so wrong, so quickly? Just this afternoon he was getting a blow-job from his Special Connection Life-Mate, and now: well, now there is Chinese take-out and candles sitting on the roof of his car in the dark and the police are there and everyone at the apartment complex by the airport is standing outside their doors, watching, and it is just a misunderstanding, that's all: she was just TOO surprised, it will all be OK, everything will just be fine, there is no reason to bring jail into this.

I am Laslo.

pm317 said...

We used to have this issue not at Thanksgiving but when visiting India. Everybody wanted a piece of us everywhere. Not having children made it less complicated -- my husband would spend the bulk of visit with his parents and I with mine.

Coconuss Network said...

Pushing Thanksgiving over to Saturday. It'll be the 4 of us and the big birdie. Lots of leftovers for future stroganoffs and soups. A holiday is what you make of it. It can be a football team or tennis doubles at your home. Enjoy the event and enjoy the company.

Scott said...

I was going to spend a longish weekend in Houston at an AA roundup, but found that my client had scheduled me for three days of training beginning on Monday. So I had to cancel my flight and eat $200 of cancellation fees for some stupid training that won't help me much for a job I'm probably going to quit soon anyway. Now I have the poisoned gift of a resentment to nurse.

So I have four days off now. I do get to spend part of it with my partner of 8 years, which is nice. Our anniversary is today. We met at a Presbyterian pastor's house on sort of a blind date.

It must be rough to be an academic, having languid weeks for screwing around in your work year.

Happy Thanksgiving.

paminwi said...

Just our family of 4 having Thanksgiving last night since my daughter has to work today. We will spend today watching football and basketball eating turkey sandwiches ( and finishing random bottles of wine - red, white and rose!)

Laslo Spatula said...

I mean, I brought cinnamon candles and her stripper name is Cinnamon: how could that be misunderstood? It is not like I am some stranger: I have seen your vagina. Countless times. I could faithfully draw it from memory.

Indeed, I have drawn it, many times, in my special notebook where I keep track of all of her performances: what song was played, what color panties she wore before she took them off, the times she spent smiling directly at me and the amount of money I tipped, it is all there, in my special notebook.

Do not make me draw a red 'X' through your name in my special notebook. Seriously: don't make me do it.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

There: I did it. I drew a red 'X' through your name in my special notebook. You are dead to me: I will never let you go.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Now the bouncers won't even let me into the club: I have even tried disguises, but to no avail. Cinnamon: she thinks she's so special, like taking ballet lessons at age twelve makes her better than everyone else. I have already seen your vagina, it is old news; I will find another. This isn't the only strip club in town.

I am Laslo.

Humperdink said...

Ever since ex-wife and divorced 26 years, my beloved wife and I have had "leftovers" when it comes to having a Thanksgiving. I have 3 children and swife had one. And now 7 grand children. Ex-wife always has the kids over @Thanksgiving. We are stuck trying to schedule a family Thanksgiving meal between Friday to Sunday. Hence we get the leftovers. Getting everyone to come over at the same time is like trying to herd cats. Kids now have in-laws to satisfy.

Looks like Friday @ 6PM.

Laslo Spatula said...

I am sorry about the red 'X' through your name, I didn't mean it I swear, I was just angry, that's all. I have seen the other vaginas and they are NOT the same, I have seen Lola and Britney and Tiffany and Lexus and countless others, but they do not hold a cinnamon-scented candle to you, my Cinnamon. Remember our Thanksgiving, how Special that was? Please let me back in the club. Please.

I am Laslo.

Humperdink said...

For you turkey carvers, the attached video is one I have used for several years now. It makes a great presentation.

http://www.nytimes.com/video/dining/1194817096866/the-butcher-carves-a-turkey.html

Laslo Spatula said...

Cinnamon, look at what you have made me do: I have woken up, hung-over and covered in my own urine and vomit, again. I have seen that man who goes into your apartment at night: I sincerely hope he is a friend of your room-mate. In fact, I think I will follow HIM and then I will let you know all the bad things he does and you will realize that I am the One who truly cares about you.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Your room-mate's friend is a bad, bad man. I am sure he will tell you that the older woman was his mother, but she is actually his whore, I know it. He cheats on you with an old ugly whore, but now you know the Truth. Don't worry: I slashed one of his tires. For You.

I am Laslo.

Johanna Lapp said...

Deirdre: All seven of my T-Day guests came to see me sworn in as a citizen later that winter. Three of them sworn in since. Another this summer.

Laslo Spatula said...

Cinnamon, what do I have to do to get you back? I had your name tattooed on my shoulder and you haven't even seen it. Don't make me hurt your room-mate.

I am Laslo.

Humperdink said...

In Pa, the Monday after Thanksgiving is a state holiday of sorts - at least in rural Pa. A 5 day weekend. The first day of buck season. Everything shuts down.

I remember moving to NW Pa from Pittsburgh in 1981 to work for a fairly large steel fabricator. As Thanksgiving/deer season approached, I asked the plant manager what would happen opening day of buck season as that Monday was not listed as a holiday. Oh, he said, the employees will start straggling around Wednesday or Thursday.

Laslo Spatula said...

Cinnamon, it was NOT my fault: sure, I pushed your room-mate, but SHE was the one who tripped and fell down the stairs.

I hope you come visit me here in jail, it would mean the World to me. Did I tell you I got raped here in jail? Well: I got raped here in jail. It's OK, though, I just thought about you the entire time and then it was over. I then tried to hang myself with my underwear, but that is a story for another time: I would like to tell it to you in person. Please come visit me.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

No visits? I have endured rape and torment for you -- for YOU. Cinnamon: Thanks for Nothing.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

See" "Thanks for Nothing." I brought it all back to Althouse's words.

I AM Laslo.

Birches said...

I'll have to remember this when my children are grown.

richard mcenroe said...

"Failure to perform to standard is to set a new and lower standard." — George S. Patton

tim in vermont said...

I was just thinking, even before reading Laslo's little rant, that a trip to a Canadian Nudie Bar is overdue. Those strippers aren't even depressed because it's not a holiday there.

Tom Gallagher said...

When the goal is pampering yourself, of course you're going to have a miserable time. Something like "Babbette's Feast" ought to be the aim.

Anonymous said...

Gone are the days of magic tricks and battling robots.

ALP said...

My family has always been very low key about holidays. In my adult life, holidays meant a chance to sleep in and have a few lazy, unstructured days - the opposite of what most people do. My partner and I are going through this week's leftovers, and will probably wait until Sunday to cook anything at all.

Those who feel pressured to spread themselves thin during the holidays, frantically cramming in activities, usually respond with a look of pure envy when I describe my lazy holiday plans of doing not much at all.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

This is projected to be the last holiday season I will be with my current husband over Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am leaving him in 2015. In the future I will expect to have the children over Thanksgiving because he always works the weekend.

Someday, when the kids are grown, I plan to do a "Thanksmas" on some weekend in early December when I will cook a feast and have the kids/spouses/grandchildren over for a few days of eating, merriment, and gift exchanging. I think that is one
of the best gifts I can give--to take myself out of the equation of the actual holidays and let them figure out how to balance their dad and their inlaws.

Michael K-that is such sweet news that you are back together with your ex-wife. I wish you many years of happiness together.

Tim said...

I feel sorry for those who do not know the joy of family at Thanksgiving. 26 of 28 of my immediate family (brother, sister,neices and nephews and children and grandchildren) prepared way too much food and brought to my mothers. Came to Cookeville TN from Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, and New Hampshire. One brother missing, stuck in LA because he manages a Banana Republic and always has to work on Black Friday, and one neice missing because she had a physical therapist out and had to stay for those patients who had to have their therapy today. And what a time we had. Eat too much, play football in the back yard, celebrate the two babies yet to come. Giving thanks to God for the many blessings he has showered upon our family. Oh yeah, keep your quiet Thanksgiving. I much prefer my too loud, too long and too stressful family get together.