Most people who think about Thanksgiving think about big meals around big tables, flying home to be with family, seeing relatives they love (and are often annoyed by).
But when I think about Thanksgiving, I don't really think about any of those things. In fact, I'd prefer to be in a country where no one really knows what Thanksgiving is, and where it would just sort of pass by unnoticed.
But at the moment, I live in the United States, and have spent the last week or so being bombarded with ads for Honey Baked hams and questions of where I will be at Thanksgiving.
In the past I've lied. I'll be honest about that--there was nothing worse to me that than expression of alarm followed by forced invitation to some strange holiday table, and so I lied. I said I was going to meet my family, or that I had plans to meet a relative, or some such thing.
There's this feeling that if you aren't spending the holidays with family--whether you like them or not--that there is something terribly wrong with you.
But this year, I'm deciding to be truthful.
When people ask me what I'm doing for the holiday, I tell them I'm spending it alone. I cut off my family because we disagreed about a lot of important things, and when you come from a background where there is incest, you have the right to step away from triggers and family life that are more hurtful than helpful. Even if the perpetrator has passed on, as in my case. Maybe I don't get Thanksgivings around the family table, but for 360+ days a year, I feel free.
So far, this has elicited both shock and envy. What will you do all day, they ask?
I will take a long, hot shower and stay in my pajamas most of the day. I will make mashed potatoes and a salad and eat them out of the serving bowls. And I will write for the whole glorious day, about all sorts of things, the times I ate big, endless meals with friends around the world, like Nona Maria Elena's banana leaf wrapped tamales pictured above, which took an entire day to make. I will let my words take me somewhere else, away from the have-tos and supposed-to-be-likes, and step out into memory and the big, beautiful world.