Thursday’s Plans

“What are your plans for Thursday?”, the same phone call every year.

As if  he might not remember what day it was or forgotten their conversation about priorities, he clearly wasn’t one of hers. He had been cast aside. Left in need to satisfy the wants of other people.

Now those wretches surround her.

Each year feeling guilty, alone, and used, she called with the expectation, he would come sit at their table for scraps of feigned affection for the sake of tradition, and her absolution.

Once again he declined the invitation.

The phone would remain silent for another year.

Thankful

I spent Thanksgiving among strangers this year. Well, I mean my wife and daughter were there but that’s pretty much the list of people I know. It was hosted at the restaurant my wife has recently found employment at. It was a fairly casual arrangement I suppose. The restaurant did the main dishes and guests were suppose to bring side dishes or deserts. Being food people my wife and I opted to bring both. The point is all these people were basically strangers to me.

For the fourteen years my wife and I have eaten Thanksgiving dinner with her family. Relationships with them however, have been disintegrating for some time now and we just finally decided we’ve had enough and no longer care to spend what little free time we have sitting in a house full of people that don’t care for each other very much, just waiting for the first person to loose their shit or to start being openly racist and thus causing the rest of the day to be awkward and uncomfortable. So instead, this year we dined with people at her work.

This wouldn’t be the first time I had a holiday meal amidst the unknown masses. I did have a couple of them in homeless shelters and that’s about as strange as it can get. I was a different person then. For one thing I was a vagrant; and vagrants can’t afford to be antisocial. This was a world apart. Sobriety and misanthropy kept me nervous and in my little corner that I staked out, just waiting for the night to be over. This gave me a little time to reflect on a few things. Namely, what’s the big deal about this holiday anyway?

See I don’t like the holidays to begin with. I’d been holding up on not flushing this one down the crapper with the rest of them but, I couldn’t tell you why.

I mean you could say spending time with your family but I spend all of my time off with them and quite frankly we all get on each others nerves after a while.

There’s the food. I like food. I love stuffing my face until I’m sick but, I’m a good cook so is my wife. We can do that when every we want. It’s just not very practical.

Then there’s the setting aside the day for reflecting on what your grateful you  have. Well I try to do that on a fairly regular basis. Some days it’s a shorter list than others. Today’s was about fair to middling.

Things I am Thankful for:

My Wife and Daughter.

This is your standard run of the mill cop-out answer. You get it.

The Fact That My Wife Has a Job Again.

It’s been a rough several years while she has struggled to find not just a job but, one that is fairly stable. It’s amazing the level of stress that has been lifted off my mind for that. It is an added benefit that she works someplace that is nice enough to hold a holiday meal for it’s employees.

Seriously money isn’t everything but, I’ll be god damned if it doesn’t solve a multitude of modern problems.

Non-alcoholic Beer.

It’s not a thing I keep around the house normally but I knew I would feel like having a drink by the time I got done watching a bunch of total strangers getting drunk. It’s not the perfect substitute but it makes me feel better. Something to do with dopamine, reward mechanisms, yada yada yada. I happened to have picked a fairly tasty one, so that’s a bonus.

 

Stores That Are Open On The Holidays.

There’s a lot of crap flying around the internet about where not to shop because they make employees work on Thanksgiving. There is also a lot of crap marginalizing these complaints by pointing out deployed military, emergency service and healthcare workers don’t get the day off; so why should retail workers?

First I wan’t to state how much bullshit it is to compare the two groups. The people who are military, EMS, or work in hospitals are necessary to the infrastructure of this country and/ or otherwise responsible for it’s safety and security (whether that’s what they are being used for or not is another matter entirely). They signed on to those jobs, hopefully out of some sense of civic duty and should be commended for that.

If we give the guy at Best Buy the day off no one dies. The Commies don’t win. You just can’t get your new TV/ tablet/ laptop/ unimportant-material-bullshit at door buster savings, alright. It is fucking dishonest, disrespectful and just plain god damned obnoxious to confuse that point so just stop.

That being said, just about everyone I know who cries foul about stores being open on Thanksgiving a) has the day off to complain about it and b) will end up in a grocery or convenience store at least once that day to buy that one ingredient they forgot, or to do a run for beer or smokes when they under estimate how far their vices go when they don’t have to be at work. So, I don’t care if all you bought was a pack of gum, or a gallon of gas. If you bought anything today your part of the system of consumer demand and you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Well maybe not, ashamed per say… I mean I’m not ashamed that I had to go buy eggs, sausage and corn meal at the last minute. I’m a busy guy, or at the very least lazy, and didn’t get around to getting that shit earlier in the week so I went shopping today. Screw it. Though I was sure to be polite and thank the clerks for being there, I mean that’s just common decency.

That Thanksgiving Is Over And The Hum-Buggery Season Is Upon Us.

Now that we have overcome this last hurdle I can devote all of my energy to properly despising Christmas. You know why, and if you don’t you’re part of the problem.

It Happens Every Year

It is once again that time of year when my residence becomes festooned with ornaments, do-dads, trinkets, gewgaws, knickknacks, baubles, adornments, and various other pieces of utterly useless crap that I never wanted, just to have them stare at me mockingly for three weeks or so; until the day that I manage to wrestle them all back into their respective boxes and put it all back into storage for eleven and a half months of the year. Meanwhile every nook, cranny, alcove, and recess hides a gift from the prying eyes of a six-year-old. This is the hazard of being a family man I suppose.

I guess you could safely say that I am not a “Christmas” type of person. I hadn’t celebrated it in years, not really since my mom died. My dad never really cared for all the rigmarole, him being both an atheist and generally opposed to crass consumerism, and so it just fell by the wayside. The holiday went largely unobserved until he passed away as well two years later. After that I just didn’t need to bother at all. I was usually alone for the holidays after that and felt quite fine about it. There were sometimes parties or other gatherings that I attended, but it always just seemed like just another party, except there was tinsel strewn around and the music was more annoying than usual.

On one or two occasions I somehow wound up spending the holiday with someone else’s family; a roommate’s or a girlfriend’s parents would ask me to come over for Christmas dinner. Those were awkward, usually because it was the first time their families had ever met me in person; and here they are doing this serious familial ritual stuff and here’s me sitting quietly on the end of the couch not belonging there at all.

After I got engaged to my wife I was a regular at her family’s gatherings across the board. This worked out after a couple of years, as I got to know their quirks, but it really never made an impact on me either way if we were getting together for Christmas, or Labor Day; of course, once again, the decorations were different, and sometimes the weather; but in Florida even that isn’t guaranteed.

It wasn’t until my daughter was born until any of it mattered a fig to me again. It wasn’t much at first since a Christmas tree really isn’t the most baby proof of items, but the magically appeared in my life a cute little outfit for my darling little girl to wear. Simple gifts with brightly colored, to large to swallow, and slobber proof seemed to be the major criteria.

When she was two we put up the first tree I had dealt with in probably close to twenty years. A small affair, measuring only three and a half, maybe for feet in height; set on up on an old typewriter stand we found in the thrift store. It was elegant with its bows and balls and beads of red and gold, and a string of white lights. Didn’t really take long most of the ornaments to break between the efforts of the toddler and the cats, but damn it we tried. The girl got a tricycle that year. Assembly of that blasted thing was unreasonably complicated and aggravating as I recall. From then on the decorating thing kind of leveled off for one reason or another but the season seemed to keep getting increasingly expensive.

Then there is the issue of the fat man. I am not sure my wife and I, two fairly scientific minded adults, decided to contribute to the perpetuating of the Santa Claus myth. I was fairly certain that we decided against it during the pregnancy and explicitly decided against it. We probably should have been clearer with the grandparents and other family members about this point because somehow I unknowingly got involved in a complex game of subterfuge and chicanery with someone who is a natural detective. To be honest I find this part of it quite fun. I think my daughter already has suspicions about Old St. Nick’s existence but finds.it amusing to play along for now.

In truth my daughter, the sole reason I bother with this holiday mess at all, makes it all enjoyable. Her anticipation of presents to come, the exuberance she has for setting up the decorations, her enjoyment of those horrible holiday songs; I just can’t help feeling just a little excited along with her.