My favorite holiday is rapidly approaching.
Thanksgiving, for me, has it all. You are expected, nay, obligated, to make massive amounts of food and eat with people you enjoy seeing. To eat almost to the point of immobility and then lounge around, making occasional trips to the kitchen to pick at things. This year, my father and I are making b’stilla, which doesn’t involve turkey, but it does involve delicious. We’ve always been fans of ethnic Thanksgivings, in triumphant defiance of traditional mores about turkey. One year we did a Japanese Thanksgiving, for example, and the next year we made Greek food. This year, apparently it’s time for the cuisine of Morocco.
So I was sort of saddened and surprised when I logged onto the Time this morning and saw an article about “coping” with the holidays. We have reached a sad state as a society if we view holidays as something to be coped with, rather than something to enjoy and revel in. Maybe I don’t have a hard time with the holidays because I’m not afraid of voicing and acting on my preferences. Indeed, I am notorious for this, but I don’t really see it as a problem. Why shouldn’t I be vocal about what I enjoy, and why should I stand idly by when things I don’t like are happening, whether these things be abuse of prisoners with the assistance of my tax dollars or being around people I hate?
There seems to be this general social expectation that people will spend the holidays with their families, whether they like it or not, and I personally call bullshit on that. I spend the holidays with people I like, and damn the torpedoes. I happen to rather like my father, and I’m excited to be spending Thanksgiving with him since I wasn’t able to last year, but I also enjoyed last year’s Thanksgiving, where I got together with a bunch of friends and made a lavish meal and ate it.
We may be born into families, but I don’t think we’re obligated to like them. I think it’s safe to say that if you don’t like your family, your family probably isn’t a big fan of you, either. Why inflict the experience on yourself when you could enjoy the company of people you actually like? Yes, it might ruffle some feathers, but I think it’s worth it. If you think that the holidays are hateful and stressful because of the environment you spend them in, then don’t subject yourself to that environment. Break free. In the end, everyone will be happier. “Coping” is bollocks when you can be having a good time.
Now, Christmas I don’t like so much, because of the commercialism. I don’t really give Christmas presents, and as a result, I don’t expect them. I wish that the holiday was more about spending time with people, and less about counting your gifts and seething because you didn’t get what you want. I usually spend Christmas with my father as well, and we usually cook something excellent and hang out by the fire discussing politics or what have you, while my friends and associates hang out with their families. I also traditionally spend Christmas eve with my other family; my best friend since childhood and her parents, and we usually have a blast making cookies and watching bad movies and saying hello to people who drop by.
I see people with these tormented family relationships and I wonder why they let their families torment them. People should just grow spines, and either abstract themselves from the “family celebration” or speak up about issues which bother them. If you don’t like the fact that your aunt criticizes whatever you put on your plate, say so. She’s not being polite, and she should be corrected. If you wish that your cousins wouldn’t feed your dogs treats because the treats make them sick, tell the cousin to stop. If you hate your family, gently inform them that you will not be able to make the annual holiday gathering, and tell them that you hope everyone has a good time. Because you certainly will be.