It’s Thanksgiving morning as I write this, and my family… well, the rest of my family had our big Turkey Day to-do weeks ago. Yeah, just like last year, we had our get-together the weekend before Thanksgiving, as most of us had our own plans on the holiday itself (my mom, for one, worked that day).
I use the phrase “the rest of my family” in that above paragraph because… well, the rest of family had a Thanksgiving get-together earlier this month. Let me explain: Already back in September, when I visited for my nieces’ birthday party, Mom was letting me know, “Yeah, we’re going to have Thanksgiving at my new apartment building.” And about a week or so later, she sent me a text message letting me know of what to bring (“bring some gluten-free bread”).
But there was something missing in my mom’s Thanksgiving reminders — the date of the party, as I automatically assumed it would be on Thanksgiving Day itself. So… you remember the day when I posted this video about the parking lot pay machine? Unbeknownst to me, that Saturday was the day the rest of my family got together for Thanksgiving. And while I was shooting that video, I got a message just after 12:30 from my sister asking, “Hey, where are you? Are you coming? Call me back.” I called her back, and only then did I learn that… yeah, they’re having Thanksgiving at Mom’s apartment building at that very moment. And here I was, still in Madison… in full Allison mode… lying to them that I was putting in some overtime at work… and insisting to them that Mom didn’t tell me which date the get-together would occur.
Just as I was insistent that Mom never told me of the date of the party, Mom was sure she gave me the date. So, after giving everyone my regrets and well wishes and ending the call, I checked my previous text messages from Mom… and sure enough, she never indicated a date for the party. I didn’t know how to break the fact to Mom, so I texted my sister back right afterwards to let her know. Presumably, Sis then told Mom, and Mom would text me back the next day apologizing for her error.
If you’re wondering at this point about whether I would never have recorded that video that weekend if I had known my family would have our Thanksgiving get-together, you’re wondering correctly. I try my best to be a dutiful son, brother, and uncle to my family, whatever our differences may be; missing their big get-together left me rather sad, even if it was through no direct fault of my own (although I do have regrets about not confirming the date ahead of time).
And if you’re wondering at this point if I’ve started to worry about Mom’s mental capacity after this episode, you’re wondering correctly again. Mom will turn 70 years old next month, and I fear that one day she will begin to lose her faculties (mental or otherwise) and she will need regular care from a caregiver if not from one of us kids.
But even in the winter of her years, Mom still seems pretty alert and confident, so much so that she recently left her job as a housekeeper and cook at a nursing home (she was tired of being on the bottom rung of the ladder) and is now a part-time cook at a restaurant just down the road from where she now lives. And she’s bright enough to acknowledge her error and invited me to lunch at her apartment. So, I will make the 2-hour-plus drive from Madison and make both my day and my mom’s day by just having a little get-together. It will be just me and Mom. My sister and her family will be with her in-laws. Our little sister and her extended family will be spending their day at their home in northern Wisconsin.
So, I am indeed thankful for the chance to spend this Thanksgiving with at least one blood relative. And while I do have other things to be thankful for, now more than ever I have things I cannot be thankful for. To wit:
- I am thankful to still live in a country that does have a lot of love, hope, and even optimism in our hearts.
- However, I am not thankful that this same country of ours has suddenly and tragically turned dark, cold, and hateful in the wake of an awful election, the ugly political campaign that preceded it, and the results that produced a new leader who, in my mind, is nothing more than evil incarnate.
- But I am thankful that we can still speak truth to power, a right whose need to exercise is something we’ll need to utilize now more than ever.
- I am not thankful that, thanks to this election and campaign, hate is now rearing its ugly head, with this tale from upstate New York serving as only one from a boatload of examples of hateful and harassing actions toward minorities of various stripes. Just because your candidate won doesn’t mean you can get away with evil.
- I am thankful, though, that, as that above link also proves, there are those who are welcoming and supportive of people who may not be natural-born Americans but are still human beings (I strongly recommend that you listen to the story at that link for the outpouring of respect alone).
- I am not thankful that there is still hate being shown toward anyone who is not straight, white, or male. Yeah, I may be white, but I don’t consider myself straight (questioning is more like it) and I don’t always consider myself male.
- But despite that, I am thankful that I can rely on the support and acceptance of those who will accept me for the beautiful person that I am, however I may present myself. Perhaps one day that support network will include my immediate family (coming out to them seems so tempting now, but I feel I must still wait).
- While I am not thankful that my home state (Wisconsin) is becoming one that may not be as progressive-minded as I would hope and have long expected and presumed it would be, at least I am thankful that the city I live in (Madison) is a forward-thinking, fully-accepting community. (Naysayers, please leave your snide “surrounded by reality” remarks at the Dane County line.)
- And, of course, I am thankful for still having gainful employment. (Who wouldn’t be?) But while I am not thankful to be stuck in a work atmosphere that can be loud and full of “bros” slapping each other high-fives in full view and full ear of those short cubicle walls (ugh!), I am thankful that there’s a general level of acceptance of each other at my company (it’s in our corporate culture).
So, yeah, there’s not a lot of things to be happy and thankful (and optimistic) about on this Thanksgiving 2016. But I’ll try my best on this day and in this time to think of what I can be happy and thankful (and somewhat optimistic) about. Here’s hoping you are able to do the same. May we all have a happy, safe, and above all, cordial Thanksgiving.