I skipped Thanksgiving this year.
Sure, I gave thanks in my own way, but my Thursday was spent huddled on the couch, eating pizza and watching episodes of “The West Wing.”
This hurt my mother’s feelings. I know this, and I deeply regret it, but I couldn’t do it. The idea of traveling even those forty-five miles to the family homestead to sit at a long table and eat turkey and mashed potatoes with the fifteen or so family members that would be present was a smothering one. A family of regular attendees to one of my comedy shows invited me to their home, but I couldn’t do it. My next-door neighbor welcomed me to his home to join his family for their feast, but even those twenty steps from my door to his was too much. I mumbled a thanks and told him I’d think about it, and I’m sure when the pizza guy showed up in my driveway, he knew my answer.
I don’t know how I’m going to make it to Christmas this year. It may be selfish to avoid family and friends and remain alone on the holidays, but when every fiber of my being is screaming and telling me to leave, to just fly somewhere for a few days, to escape and hide until the holidays are over, I have to listen. If it’s being selfish to make sure that my sanity and emotional security remain intact, so be it.
My problems with the holidays, along with organized religion and political dogma and people who say “well, you just should” and the reason I question everything boils down to a distrust of tradition. I don’t like rituals or things that just happen because that’s how they’ve always been done. Many people find comfort in the mindless ritualized nature of much of our society, but I don’t.
We had created our own traditions, ones that we were slowly building over the twelve years we were together. The ornament once a year, the presents getting opened a week early, the cookie baking – all traditions familiar to everyone, but they were done in our own way. And I murdered those traditions in one surprisingly quick and easy divorce.
What’s the point of building new traditions by myself? I won’t be single forever, and I derive absolutely zero pleasure from celebrating something alone. It’s not a matter of depression – I just don’t see the point in celebrating without someone around to celebrate with you.
Why participate in the old traditions? That’s not who I am anymore. I’ve been affected in several, measurable ways since I became single. I’m not the person that my family knows anymore. I don’t want to be that person, and I need to move on from it.
Maybe I’ll get there. This will only be my third Christmas and Thanksgiving since the end of the world, and with every holiday, I’ll figure out who I want to be on Christmas. Who I want to be with on Thanksgiving. And if it turns out to be “a guy sitting on a beach in Mexico by himself,” that’s a tradition I could probably get behind.