Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why We Hate Our Families

Maybe hate is a strong word. I don't hate my family; in fact, I don't even hate devoted partner's family, and I assume he doesn't hate mine. Let's instead call it a simple case of different priorities. I prioritize my desires above the desires of our collective families. As many Americans know, we are coming up on one of the, what I like to call, mandatory holidays. Sure, you can spend 4th of July and Arbor Day on your own, but thou must spend thine Thanksgiving with some configuration of thine family. Lackluster though that may be.

So let me tell you what my family's typical Thanksgiving looks like and, without maligning devoted partner's, you can infer that his is similar.

Our nuclear family, mother father the boy yelena, sit down and eat turkey. Sometimes this happens in the afternoon; sometimes in the evening; sometimes on Friday; sometimes not at all. The boy shows up an hour late looking like he just rushed from the rumpled sheets of some woman of low morals; we argue about the Israel/Palestinian conflict; we eat too much pie; we children steal turkey for later. We do not watch parades, football games, or sit before a roaring fire. Father is distracted by the sales that will start the next day. Mother can't believe she just spent two days cooking all that food for four people. I miss Thanksgivings of Christmas when your friends were all home too and you snuck out of your family celebration as soon as possible to go get blackout-drunk with one another.

One year I ditched Thanksgiving with my family to spend it with the Frenchies (and I really can never finish apologizing for the undercooked turkey and the pumpkin pie mess). Family retaliated by spending the following Thanksgiving in Italy where the boy was studying abroad. WITHOUT ME. Yes, that's right. My parents went to spent Thanksgiving with my brother in Rome. I spent Thanksgiving at home with my roommate's family because my own parents wouldn't spring for the plane ticket - fu#@$@#4ers! So I have no allegiance to this thing. Furthermore, Thanksgiving for four people is the height of depressing. Why such a big meal for four people who don't need the excuse of Thanksgiving to eat together? After all, we all live near one another. And, despite the boy's protestations that he'd like to go spend Thanksgiving with our relatives in the greater D.C. area, I think spending 5 hours trying to make it from Newark to Trenton on I-95 would make him rue the day he thought travel for Thanksgiving was a good idea.

Now devoted partner is far kinder to his family than I. But, more often than not, Thanksgiving is a small and, dare I say, somber affair - of necessity: eating with your own immediate family does not a holiday make. Since sister-in-law moved to California, it's now a hideous shlep for her to come home and her uncle and aunt live 45 minutes from her - if I needed a dose of family, I would choose the family I could drive to in the morning and drive away from at night. So when mother-in-law announced she was going to California this year for Thanksgiving, I pounced.

And I mean pounced. I don't think devoted partner was off the phone with her before I already had plane tickets lined up. I would not be spending time or money to fly westward to have turkey with devoted partner's family, not least because of the hideous clusterfruck that is domestic holiday travel, but because in a world where we get three weeks of vacation and people think that's generous, I don't want to waste an hour of it on obligation (I am slowly converting devoted partner to this way of thinking). I realize that my grandmother lives driving distance and his grandparents are only accessible by plane, but...call more! I'm sure mother-in-law would have been overjoyed had we leapt (oh, blogger, why do you think leapt is not a word?) up and said we would be overjoyed to have a Very Northern California Thanksgiving, and we got a little bit of ribbing from the other side of his family wondering why we didn't want to come to Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with grandma (grandma, by the way, is cool, and knows exactly why we'd rather take a week's vacation), but I used a cunning trick (made more cunning by the fact that he knows I'm doing it and still can be swayed): I offered an alternative.

It went a little something like this: you know, you already get Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving week off; if you just take Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, we can go diving for a week.

Evil, right?

Followed by this revelation was a 48-hour period of research in which I made a compelling financial argument and we were booked.

So, dear readers, I abandon you for the week of Thanksgiving as well. I will be underwater and I will not have a computer (except the one on my wrist that tells me how deep I am). I wanted to give you fair warning so that you could find another site to entertain you in my absence - I humbly suggest all the ones on my sidebar.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, I'm late in reading this, but Totally.

    I swore off gathering with family for Thankgiving years ago. I've spent precisely one with them in the last 7 years. Up until this year, I've been out of town vacationing every time, preferably to places where it -isn't- thanksgiving.

    I find Thanksgiving more fun one on one with the s/o and no one else who knows it's supposed to be a special day. It's like an inside joke.

    Not the case in Hawaii, but when you're surrounded by Japanese tourists because all the Americans are at each other's houses, then it might as well be another country.