Wow, that was a bit of a run on sentence, non?
Anyways. Thanksgiving. I remember one that we hosted at our house. I remember getting smacked in the back of the head because I "mouthed off" to my aunt, even though we were both just goofing off. I remember sitting there waiting for someone to take up for me. No one did. I started crying. I ran to my room and stayed there until Saturday. My dad did it. Physical punishment was a rarity in my house, but it was always there. Lurking, just waiting for me to fuck up and do something stupid or break something.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't grow up in an abusive household, but, that element of fear was there.
Anyways, so, that was one Thanksgiving. For the most part, we would go to my grandfather's house. When I entered college, I didn't come back for Thanksgiving because it wasn't financially smart. School would be out in another 3 weeks and I'd just have to go back, so I stayed. Once I went to a professor's house for dinner for the "orphaned" students. That was one of the best dinners ever. Great conversation. Interesting classmates. Minimal talk of serial killers (the professor was for my "History of Serial Killers" class. She was awesome.)
But, Grandpa's house. That was a different realm. When his girlfriend was still alive, it was fun. She was such a great lady. She died quite a few years ago, I think she had ovarian or cervical cancer. She was full of happiness and life up until the end. Her kids still come over to my grandpa's for a visit during the holidays. They are nice enough. I don't know them that well, so it's just polite conversation. But, when I wiled away my days during the holiday break at school I didn't really miss the gathering that much. She had passed while I was still in either middle or high school (I'm going to go with middle school) My grandfather would be drinking instead of eating. Most likely my uncle and father as well. I didn't like seeing it. It depressed me. It still does to this day watching people just get more and more drunk. I think this is why I don't really like bars anymore. Or clubs for that matter. Clubs are just meat markets for drunk and/or lonely people, bars...same thing, just without the facade of going for some dancing.
Alcoholism runs in my family, and so, I think that's also why I have such an aversion to it. I remember going to my grandmother's house (maternal, grandpa's wife) in Clewiston, FL for a visit when my little cousin was up there. I wasn't really going to visit with my grandmother, I was going to protect my cousin. See, grandma was a weepy drunk. Professing her love for us and her children and bemoaning the fact that my father never came to see her. No one loved her like she loved us. That was when I announced it was time for my cousin and I to get ready for bed. 'No, just stay up for a few more minutes. Sit with me. You love me don't you?'
I was about eight or nine during that stuff. My cousin was about 6. It wasn't all sad up there, my stepgrandfather was a carpenter. He was missing 2 fingers. He had the nicest wrinkles. He was illiterate. I got to play with the scrap wood and hammer and nails in his shop while he worked. I never built anything "good," but it was nice to play and hammer and saw. My cousin was too young to use these tools, so she would go play with the neighbor kids who were closer to her age and play hide and seek and stuff.
That neighborhood is not the same as it was before. It's now full of chickens and migrant families. Sure, the families are still there, just a different race. Different smells come from the trailers now, not the same kinds of foods, the same staples, but different spices. It's all still pick up trucks though :) I saw what the alcohol did to her, I have seen pictures of her in her youth, when she was just a mother, not a grandmother, and she was vibrant and had a great job as a producer for armed services television. At the end, she was an underweight weepy drunk whose life didn't turn out like she'd hoped.
Perhaps I think too much. I sometimes wonder if I was put in these situations because my family knew that I could handle it. But, can I really handle it? When do I get to let someone take care of me? Can I even let that happen? I remember in college I went to see a counselor because I was just wanting to hit everyone and everything and drink myself into oblivion and...I needed out of a class. All I wanted her to do was tell me what to do. And all she did was ask me what I thought I should do. I didn't want to think I wanted someone to think for me. I was tired of thinking, I was tired of telling everyone what to do and wondering I couldn't find just ONE person to tell me what to do. I got my 3 visits and cut visits off with her. She was just maddening, but I found it amusing that she made the resounding captain obvious statement: "You've got a lot of anger inside you." No shit. That's why I'm here. Group anger management classes weren't what I had in mind and so I rebuffed her.
Most people who know me "in real life" would say, "She's so happy. Nice, giving. Will always help out." But, it's like the picture of the crying clown. A lot of the times, I'm either just numb or sad on the inside. One night during the whole counseling thing, I got rip roaring drunk and went looking for the dorm "ho" so I could pick a fight with her. I wound up on my friend's bed crying for an hour. She didn't know what to do. The roles were reversed. It was usually her crying on my shoulder. But, you know what, she did the best thing she could do. She just let me go and let me get it out. I couldn't show my face the next day, my eyes were so swollen. I always though it was poetic license, but they really do get swollen when you spend all night crying.
So, yeah, Thanksgiving. It's great. You can get smacked in the head or you can get to meet an incredible woman or you can just hang out with people you'd probably never ever get to know in daily life and have a great time over fancy turkey and a glass of wine. I guess it's what you make of it.
Now that I've bored you enough (if you've even made it this far) I again wish you Happy Thanksgiving.