A lot of things change as we get older: sugary cereals aren’t as tasty as mushrooms and asparagus, socks as Christmas gifts are actually amazing, and holidays are flexible. Thanksgiving has always been a bit different for me because my parents are divorced, but this year was something new entirely.
Then: Thanksgiving as a Kid
Every year, my sister and I switched between who we spent Thanksgiving with: one year with Dad, the next with Mom, then back to Dad again. This happened with other holidays, as well. Thanksgiving with Mom usually meant the church potluck, with me and some other kids playing Monopoly in a classroom. With Dad, it meant a big home-cooked meal, sometimes with extended family. Regardless of whom I was with, Thanksgiving happened on the third Thursday of November, had turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, and was altogether relatively normal.
Now: Thanksgiving as a Young Adult
This year, Thanksgiving happened on November 12th. A Sunday.
As we get older and start meeting new people, dating new people, gather step-siblings, have work and travel to plan around, and more and more, it becomes harder to schedule the holidays. I have my mom and dad, my step-sister has her mom and dad, family friends have their own families, you get the picture. There was no way to get everyone together on Thanksgiving for Thanksgiving, unless we wanted to have ham and green beans at ten in the morning. So my dad restructured his monthly Second Sunday dinner to be a Thanksgiving potluck.
Everyone contributed a dish while my dad roasted the turkey. There was a cheesy brussle sprouts casserole, sausage stuffing, green beans, fresh baked bread, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, and a spinach salad with the most amazing cranberry vinaigrette. I made a sweet potato and walnut pasta bake that I had previously made for the weekly Family Dinner I have with Elena and Mitch, modified from this recipe.
It was a great event and the food was to die for. It took a lot of stress out of the month, but then something strange happened: what was left to do? While coworkers and friends talked about their Thanksgiving plans, I was left to shrug my shoulders.
I’m used to my holidays being a bit different; it’s been two years since I celebrated Christmas on Christmas day. The special days become less about the days and more about making time to spend with loved ones, however possible. While it’s awkward to be finished with a holiday before it happens and to try and explain that to people in the 30 seconds we’re in the elevator together, I feel more connected to the spirit of the holidays. As much as I’d love for things to be conventional and simple, I’ll take my rescheduled, purposeful holidays any day.