In Canada, we celebrate thanksgiving almost two months earlier than our neighbours down south.
As I’m writing this, I’m not preparing any turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes or anything festive—not even gravy. Tonight we’re having chicken cacciatore (but between now and then I’m heating up a late lunch).
While the water in my pot comes to a boil, I’m going to ramble about Thanksgiving as a concept: we gather with friends and family who we probably don’t see often (some only make appearances at weddings and funerals), the kitchen is a massive mess, and everything is chaos as clusters of bodies force their way into a host’s living space to share personal news (good or bad). Privacy is nonexistent.
Don’t get me wrong, spending time with your family can (and has been, for me) a very positive experience. Of the family members who still keep in contact, and who we still keep in contact with, our gatherings have always been pleasant—not loud or dramatic. There’s no yelling, fights (fists or otherwise), table-flipping, or antagonism. I guess I’m thankful for that.
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a loud or overly-passionate argument at the dinner table, not at breakfast either. I’ve been tearful at lunch but that was because of something that happened at school, so it doesn’t count. There, something else to be thankful for!
Now that I’ve taken the time to plate my food and eat it, I’m thankful I haven’t generated much of a mess to clean up later.
Still, there’s one thing that sticks in my mind as every other person on social media begins to parrot their annual cautions against discussing “politics” at the table—and it’s just that. After such a dramatic year, there will inevitably be opinionated relatives not discussing, but making casual (provocative, for their topic of focus) remarks, and then “politely” asking to drop it as they become aware and catch themselves. We can’t just challenge them either, knowing it will escalate into something we can’t take back, and ruin the experience for everyone else, which is unfair.
In my experience, those family members who wag their fingers the most always let slip such remarks (eventually), proving that behind their facades they’re quite passionate. Catch them away from the dinner table and you may even see them fly into a rage.
It wasn’t at thanksgiving, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a nerve struck like when my aunt suddenly started to rant and make ignorant remarks about the Syrian refugee crisis. We were having a casual BBQ one summer with enough food for five people while sitting outside on her patio.
Remember what I said about how I’ve never experienced an argument at the table? Well, that’s a half-truth, if only because I clammed up and seethed, having some passionate views of my own on that particular topic. Once Pandora’s box is opened, though, you can’t close it again. I ended up sitting in angry silence, knowing I wouldn’t be able to get a word in if I wanted to. I wanted to leave, but I don’t drive, and my meal didn’t taste good anymore.
She’d served one of my favourite dishes and spoiled it, along with the rest of the evening, and I would’ve been wrong to say anything else ruin it for everyone else!
I guess I’m thankful I didn’t “make a scene” and have her start screaming. I hate it when she screams.
I imagine it’s harder for those who deal with sensitive issues on a more intimate basis, and I feel conflicted as to whether I should be thankful I don’t, knowing that many more do.
That’s been my rant for today, if you celebrate, please try to have a happy Thanksgiving. I hope you all genuinely enjoy your time with friends and family without drama or awkwardness.