Saturday, November 21, 2009


I pointed out the irony of our situation to my grief counselor this week: this Thanksgiving, the kick-off to the dreaded First Holiday Season PT, in a way will be easier than the last several. How does one reconcile that?

For most of my life, Thanksgiving was my favorite of the major holidays. I mean, what's not to like? It's cold out (mostly, okay sometimes) so you get to have a fire (sometimes you have to open a window or turn on the a/c, but...), it's centered around some of my favorite foods (mmmm, turkey) and you get to watch football all day. Growing up, the one thing I didn't like about it was the parade. Dad would drag me out of bed at some ungodly hour and make me watch the Macy's Day Parade with him. In some ways, he was like a little kid. He loved parades. I liked sleep more. But Mother would give me a glass of eggnog with nutmeg on top, and that would ease the pain. Then she would serve the same thing every year. Turkey, stuffing, crescent rolls and cranberry sauce that came straight out of the can and still had the indents of the can molded into it when she set it on the table. There was never a deviation to the routine. Maybe as I grew older I refused to get up to watch the parade, but the day was predictable and - well, the word that sprung to mind was "safe". I guess I mean that it could be counted on. Everyone knew their role and fulfilled it year after year. It had a lazy, relaxed feel to it. That is how traditions are built, I guess. We hold onto what makes us comfortable.

Now imagine how it is to be bulimic on a day like Thanksgiving. It is the furthest thing from safe that there is. The entire day is centered around food and lots of it. (Well, unless you're us, then it is equally centered around food and football.) Generally, it is not just a lot of food, but a lot of calorically dense food. I will never be able to look out on the world from my daughter's eyes, but I would imagine it's really tantamount to torture. The easy thing to do then, one would think, would be to downplay that aspect of the holiday. But, on the other side of the coin for us always was our family and almighty Tradition (imagine a little Fiddler on the Roof playing here). When things were still staged at Greg's parent's house, the menu was out of my hands. But, even once it shifted, and I hosted it every year, I felt as though I was between a rock and a hard place. Particularly with the two grandmothers, whose traditions were now being handed down. For them, it was important to see those traditions carried forward; certain favorite dishes, table linens they once had, even the timing of the day (to eat before the Cowboy game or after!). And, there were other family members who had no stake in either of these opposing positions, other than that they deserved to enjoy the tradition and pomp and circumstance of the day like a normal, American family (presuming there is such a thing). I never knew how to equitably balance all those things, and the holiday eroded for me long before this particular year. This year, the menu is not the worry. I get to make the mashed potato dish Greg's mom made. I already have Mother's cranberries for her. I'll make the pumpkin muffins I've made since I was first on my own. None of that will trigger Kelsey this year. I won't have to worry and fret every time she darts into the kitchen, or pushes back from the table and immediately goes down the hall. I won't have to worry about how hard it is for her just to get through this day that's supposed to be a happy one. I won't have to worry how it tears her sister up to watch her behavior. So, again, how am I supposed to feel about that? Well, this year, I feel completely lousy!

I would like to get it back some day, this formerly favorite day of the year. I wonder if that's possible. I just put eggnog on the grocery list. Who knows, maybe I'll even get up and watch the stupid parade in Dad's honor to begin re-establishing a long lost connection with it. I kind of doubt it, though. Sorry, Dad, maybe next year.

1 comment:

  1. I can kinda see Thanksgiving through Kelsey's eyes. It has always been my least favorite holiday.
    I just never got any pleasure eating all day long, then complaining about being full.
    I've already scheduled my Thanksgiving dinner
    around my work-out time at Golds. I know, I'm
    kinda weird sometimes, right?