Yesterday was Thanksgiving. A time where we surround ourselves with loved ones, food, and laughter. Relatives travel from near and far and stories are shared around the dinner table. And for the first time, I spent my holiday away from it all.
Yesterday, I gathered around someone else’s <table. I shared stories with someone else’s family. It was their family that travelled from near and far to join us. And I felt every so slightly out of place.
This was my first Thanksgiving in New York, and in a way, it was fulfillment of a life-long dream.
I went to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, a broadcast that I watch every year came to life before my eyes. I stood on the steps of the Museum of Natural History with my roommate as Charlie Brown and Dino and Thomas the Tank Engine and Elf on a Shelf bob down Central Park West. I’ve always wanted to move to New York. Since I was a little girl and felt the magic of this city, I dreamed to be a part of it. And now, as the leaves continue to fall and the weather gets cold, and the crisp winter air descends, this city fills with magic and my heart glows.
But this week, hasn’t felt like Thanksgiving; in a way, it feels just like a holiday I’ve never experienced before. And that is a bizarre feeling. Like I was a guest at a special dinner party.
I haven’t had a truly peaceful holiday in years. Typically, the family gatherings go south. A few years ago, my brother walked out on Christmas. There seems to always be someone who is upset or some pair that fights. Someone has a bad attitude for no decipherable reason and it’s contagious. It just never seems to work out well for everyone- so why do we hold it so closely? With such regard?
Why did I miss going home so much when it would have inevitably turned into a series of family squabbles at some-point?
Because, holidays are so much more.
What makes a holiday special? Is it the traditions you keep that make the day special? Is it the cold weather outside? Is it the people that you’re with? Is it what you eat or drink? Is it the lights and the candles and the smells? Is it a combination of it all, or is it something else entirely?
Without the creamed corn and the grilled turkey and the mashed potatoes, it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving. But without the my family and the squabbles and jokes and sarcasm, even being here, fulfilling a lifelong goal of my own, I didn’t feel at home.
I believe that we make our own homes, but sometimes we still crave the one that grew us. We are all nostalgic for a past that didn’t happen, and hold unrealistic expectations for what the future holds, and yet our hope remains and our traditions too, and we wait for the next holiday with excitement and anticipation.
photo credit: L. M. Raitt. November 2016.