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When You Were a Young and Callow Fellow

Holiday schmaliday. Who really gives a shit? For most writers spending time with families is hell. One year, I went on strike and didn’t go home. I went to the movies and ate entire baguette with sweet butter  in my apartment. I watched the parade and I cried. This deep streak of sentimentality really scares me. I can start bawling at the first sight of a chubby majorette in white vinyl cowboy boots swinging a baton with confidence.  So much joy just destroys me. So please, pick a fight with a relative and park yourself in some grown kid’s room turned into a den. Stretch out on the corduroy covered bed with matching bumpers and take a nap.

What do you hate about Thanksgiving?

p.s. Be back next week. I’ve got some twirling to do. Love, Betsy Lerner

68 Responses

  1. Nothing. I love Thanksgiving. A lot.

  2. All that food. It’s what I love and hate about the holiday. Oh, and these 5k, 10k races. The Turkey Trot, the Gobble Jog…My husband is a newly obsessed runner and now we get to go to a race before we cook and eat. One sanctimonious word from him about calories and I’m going to hide his fucking running shoes .

  3. I used to hate almost everything about Thanksgiving.. Well, not just that holiday but any of them I had to spend with my family. They would leave me rung out and emotionally drained. Then one Thanksgiving, while sitting in my car crying over yet another ruined day….it came to me…I did not have to be there. I was an adult and I could choose not to participate. So, now every Thanksgiving, I celebrate my own personal holiday of freedom. It only took me 26 years to figure that one out!

  4. I know nothing about Thanksgiving. And turkeys and majorettes. These displays astound me. And family gatherings – no one picks fights here but everybody takes a serious nap, awake or asleep or both. Alcohol!!

  5. A whole baguette with butter sounds like my kind of meal.

    As far as holidays go, Thanksgiving isn’t terrible. The excess though. The too-muchness of it all. When did I get so old that the shadow of consequence ruins anticipation? Pack the Tums, the fat-waisted yoga pants, take some extra hot flash Chinese herb balls. In service to what, exactly? 6,000 calories worth of stuffing and gravy?

    Luckily, we’re going to the coast, where miles of rain-soaked beach await. We’ll gather shit to fashion into wreaths. There will be football. And booze. The whiskey and bitters are packed already, nestled next to my Grace Paley book.

    Happy holidays to all you twirlers.

  6. I don’t get overly excited about any holidays, but being a public school teacher I have to say I am sure as hell happy they’re there! Starting tomorrow I have six days of sleeping in! Thanksgiving gives me at least two days I don’t have to cook (thanks to leftovers), and my mother-in-law’s love of Black Friday and excessive spending on our kids means I will have to spend very little money for Christmas and school shopping come next August. (I always tell her size bigger so they can wear the stuff next year or it lasts longer.) Cheers!

    • Report card grades and comments are always due just after Thanksgiving, so I will be toting my laptop along and writing, writing, writing about little Janey’s class participation and Bobby’s poor spelling…

  7. This year I’m on holiday hiatus. Too many funerals and losses these past months to feel thankful, merry or festive. I’m even shipping my son off on a road trip to The Relatives so that he will at least have a few days of decadent meals and the company of family that isn’t weepy.

    But all is not bleak: I am grateful that I found this site and am allowed to participate with this talented tribe. Wishing y’all a relaxing holiday weekend!

  8. Choices, choices. If the holidays make you crazy, choose something else, anything that doesn’t make you crazy. Why put yourself through it year after year? Happy Thanksgiving seems an odd phrase for this holiday. Pass Me a Fork to Stick in my Eye seems to be more accurate.

  9. I hate that my mom is dead. She was a fierce cook and Thanksgiving was her holiday. I miss her stuffing almost as much as I miss her.

    • My dad made the stuffing at our house. He always let me sample it a few times to make sure it was editable. It was the taste of the holiday. What ever happened to the little girl standing at the stove with her father?
      Gee i miss him. and her.

      • Wry,
        My son will be a first time father in February. I’ve told him “You’ll love being a little girl’s daddy… especially the small hand in yours on walks around the block… and the hugs and sloppy kisses when home from work.”
        There’s a lot of things to look forward to on Thanksgiving. I’ll just hate it when they are all just memories.

  10. Football. People, if the Pilgrims and Indians managed to sit at the SAME TABLE and eat, is it too much to ask for you to do the same?

    • To play the devil’s advocate: the pilgrims and Indians didn’t have that choice. Besides, people connect in a lot of different ways. I personally hate that controlled violence is one of those ways but hey, it’s America.

  11. I hate almost nothing about Thanksgiving. For thirty years i have been the one cooking and entertaining because we can fit the most people around our table and the kid’s table. The kids are adults now but still throw dinner rolls at each other. This year we’re going to my nephews. Time to pass on the tradition to the next generation.

    We don’t have fights when the family gets together around here. We’ve walked on egg shells a few times but almost always it’s food, football and Aunty C’s rum cake.

    I bought a turkey to cook this weekend just for us. Can’t start the season without the smell of the bird in the house.
    My best to all who haunt here, my best to you Betsy and may your batons always twirl and you white vinyl boots always shine.

  12. My MILs endless fuss this year about when to set the dining room table. She wanted to do it yesterday and asked me how to keep the cat off her good linen tablecloth.

    i told her that there was no way without posting a ’round-the-clock guard and suggested we set the table for Thanksgiving ON THURSDAY.

    She stared at me a moment and said, “Well, maybe we could put a bedsheet over it?”

  13. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No pressure except for the self-inflicted bake til I drop (baking food, people). And even if the apple pie falls in the middle and leaks all over the oven, the fudge crumbles, and the chocolate chip cookies are flat, I have a forgiving family who will praise my efforts and eat it anyway.

    What I do hate this year is that this will be the first time my oldest child, a freshman in college, won’t be home. He made the mature decision to stay on campus because of time, distance and money. So I’ll smile and pretend to everyone that it’s fine, he’ll be home for Christmas, when I’ll be a mess inside. I guess that’s what the wine’s for, right?

  14. I love mashed potatoes. The end.

  15. Depends on the destination. Some relatives can really cook, others, not so much. We are doing something new this year, and I predict it will ROCK. Friends who own a new, successful restaurant (with oyster bar, thank you very much) have invited a few friends and family to thank us thanks for our support (my form of support is to eat there and clap when yummy things show up on my table). Oysters, spicy grilled turkey, open bar, wine collector coming with crown jewels of his collection?

    Come to mama. Oh, and yes – she’ll be there too, but I happen to adore mine.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

  16. Now that I’m an orphan, the holidays aren’t so bad for me.

    My Thanksgiving involves a 200+ yr. old house, the attic for respite, fires in the fireplace, football, Pieces of April on dvd, tons of food, friends & family, my cats. A healthy year for all, for which I am grateful.

    And I’m cheesily grateful for everyone here. You all rock.

  17. Every year my tactics grow more drastic. This year I am decamping to India. I’ll let you know if it works.

  18. For all the pomp and pageantry, family weirdness and way too much food, the celebration of giving thanks at least once a year isn’t such a bad thing.
    And I’ll be rooting for the Jets to somehow manage to beat the freakin’ Patriots and I always favor the team playing against Dallas.
    Good holiday song few have heard: It’s the Day Before Thanksgiving by Darrell Scott.

    • I live in Patriots country and HATE them, esp. coach Belacheat.
      It’s all NY Giants in this house! But yes, Go Jets!

  19. Oh, I can’t say that I ‘hate’ it. It is an awful lot of bother out of step with our modern now a-go-go culture, though. Back in the back days, when our ancestors were closer to the land, being buried right in back of the house as so often they may have been, it made more practical sense to have the autumn and winter harvest festivals we have inherited and now celebrate mostly by suffering assaults of consumerist capitalist propaganda. After all, and even more than all, who these days stops to ponder on such questions as, Why apple-bobbing and pumpkins at Halloween? Why turkeys and hams and cranberries at Thanksgiving? Why geese and nuts and candied apples at Christmas? Why starvation in late January and well into February? But these days, when you can buy anything you want whenever you want it–or even everything you don’t want whenever you could care less–and in fact may as well find yourself all but forced to buy and buy and buy yet again, for how else are we to win the combined wars against terror and fear and want and nihilism and ennui and death and meaninglessness–these days, these fatted, rotting, decadent days when we barely are able to follow shadows of the ancient rituals and can no longer manage even the skeletal framework of a belief in belief, what more can we be expected to muster other than thin, wan smiles and a wave and a weakly whispered, ‘Happy Thanksgiving, my little lovelies, Happy Thanksgiving, one and all’? So, Happy Thanksgiving. Save me a wing and see you at the game.

    • Tetman- no need to starve in Jan & Feb with King Cakes now being shipped all over this planet. Around here, it becomes another layer to the food pyramid and is possibly the only food item not readily available year-round (as local bakeries would be publicly ridiculed in this ritual-centric town). Hope you also get more than a wing!

      • Mais oui, cher. I always have a packed birthday party in January here in HK because my best buddy ships the giant Haydel’s king cake to me. I smile and shake my head when I’m asked to bring one to our gathering at the shore each summer. “Oh no, just from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday.” “Huh?” (I’m always nostalgic for oyster dressing, not stuffing, made with real French bread.)

      • And did those King Cakes arrive with the porcelain figurine and the baby? I treasure the 2006 issue – a tiny FEMA trailer draped with beads. Who needs Hummel when that trailer, a bunch of teeny Mardi Gras Indians and a beignet waiter crowd a shelf in my kitchen!

    • So dark today, my darling. Can I offer you a slice of pie? A candied yam? A game of Scrabble by the fire?

    • Are you primed, yet, to write a post-apocalyptic novel?
      Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like giving these shallow easytimes a good rogering.

      -a customer

  20. I will be at my ex-husband’s and his girlfriend’s Park Avenue apartment (with MY boyfriend), being served a chilled martini while enjoying my darling, darling, darling granddaughter who is two years old and already fluent in English and Mandarin. Forgiveness is so cool. Highly recommended.

  21. I always have such high hopes during the holidays, laced with a little nostalgia and melancholy. My high hopes are that no one will get upset over some trivial thing and have a meltdown.

    Thanksgiving day we spend at my MIL’s. It’s exhausting and a bit strange. I try to leave the past in the past, but still, there are some there who will put on the big fake smiles, try to act like they give a shit, but deep down you just know it ain’t so. There is a jealousy factor that comes into play, and you’d think with everyone being “grown up” the high school crap would have ended by now.

    On the other hand…my MIL has something called Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT). She doesn’t let it stop her from trying to do what she’s always done – create a beautiful center piece for the table and worry over when to put the tablecloth on the table. She gets frustrated and ticked off when things don’t go right. She’s been known to drop a few “fucks” here and there. (Go Shirley)

    My brother in law has CMT too. My other brother in law committed suicide – and his ashes were never buried. They are in the living room. It wouldn’t surprise me if a plate is fixed and set beside the urn. My sister in law has MS and is in a wheelchair. My husband is THE only one without a physical affliction and feels guilty.

    After writing this comment, and reading it, I’m thinking good God, there’s got to be a book in here somewhere.

  22. My parents had the good grace to die young, so I don’t have to deal with them. I do what I damn well please on the holidays. Sometimes I pick well; sometimes not.

  23. I dislike some of the trifling things that crop up around the holidays, but it seems right that I keep my dislike trifling, too. Right now, I’m enjoying foggy mornings at first light, ground covered with reddish leaves, with plenty left to fall. I’m smiling at the thought of my remaining brother making lemon merengue pies for his daughter, like our Mom made for us. We’ll spend time with friends and family, and I’ll raise a toast to absent friends. I am, and will be grateful for many things.

    Tommorrow is no day for strife, and I wish that for all of you.

  24. I hate that my mother’s dead. I used to like sticking the black olives on my fingers and snapping the wish bonein half. I do like that damn parade still. Just wish I could float off with those baloons…

  25. Having to watch the Detroit Lions play. An annual dispensation of depressing mediocrity wrapped in throwback jerseys.

  26. What I hate: worrying whether the turkey and stuffing will kill me.

  27. The massive amounts of food my mother and grandmother cook. They make enough to feed a country and there’s always pounds of it left over, and because they cooked, I have to do clean up. Grrrrr! I also hate the inevitable food coma the turkey puts you in. Like it’s not bad enough you eat till your gut busts, let’s pack on a three hour nap so all of the carbs rush to your ass. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

  28. It is the the worst day of the year. Tensions, anxieties and an awful…what?…I don’t know..a sort of creeping nervousness…emerge on this day. Every Thanksgiving. By the end of the meal I’m limp with exhaustion. Each year, I am amazed anew that I’m even capable of such wretched feelings.
    So. Why Thanksgiving? Why does this day, this event bring all this out? I just do not know.
    It’s Friday morning now. I feel wrung out, utterly depleted. But…I’m glad it is over.

  29. David, I raise my cup of I rish coffee to you, and to better times.

  30. so, i motored south across a vast expanse of haunted desert to see my peeps en la frontera for t-giving.

    my dad is very old and battered and it is sad for he is decrepitating and knows it. can’t see can’t hear can’t walk and can’t think. concussions in every war he served in. has medals and pensions and titanium implants and walks very slowly in the company of his cane. my mom who had recently some dicey times is now rising to the occasion. she said this t-giving dindin was the last she plans to make. i told her looks like i got there just in time.

    i wore my obama t-shirt and was neither struck by buckshot nor shown the door. my mom and i discussed politics as civilly as possible and it was pretty civil as we were both careful to avoid saying all of what we really might think. she believes the election and re-election of obama means the end of the world as she knows it, but truth is or truths are 1) the world as she knows it ended in 1968, and 2) she’s been looking for the end of the world since 1967.

    the food was good and the weather was fine and i fixed my dad’s computer as i do every time i visit and i was so glad i don’t live in that world (which has ended) anymore. i motored north back across the haunted expanse of vast desert and the weather was still fine and the traffic was smooth and the cops were busting other drivers and not me. and forsett was down.

    • Loved reading this, Tetman. Peace to you.

      We went to my in-laws in Indiana, where my mother-in-law has turned sour. Night one, I went to bed with a panic attack. That’s new. Night two, I went to bed crying like a cliche baby. Night three, I went to bed just fucking pissed. It was a narrow escape.

      And in the words of Bobbi, our local psychiatrist, I’m done. I believe this was my last in-law trip …..

  31. For the first time in thirty years I did not cook.
    We gathered around my nephew and his new wife’s table, their first time to entertain us for TG. We laughed a lot. Where else but in my family would a group of adults, after giving thanks, and while passing the mashed, discuss the length and girth of John Holmes? At one Thanksgiving gathering a few years back we discussed the origin of the word FUCK and did it really mean Fornication Under the Consent of the King. These discussions certainly beat the rehashing of old family issues and new family set backs.
    But I did, when I got home, stuff and oven a turkey, and we ate leftovers all weekend just as if we had a houseful of people. It was nice. I did not have to clean the bathrooms or sweep the dog hair. i did not have to set the table the night before. It is an easy meal to prepare, the hard part, timing, so that it all is served ready and hot at the same time. I am a master at it. Did I miss the crowd, was the food as good as mine, did I mind the drive, was I disappointed that the day was different, that I was not in control?
    No.

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