Thanksgiving is…

29 Nov

Thanksgiving is sitting in a dining hall full of raucous college students who’ve made too much cranberry sauce and too little stuffing, but it’s okay, because we’re really there just there for the dessert table anyway. We sit there, at tables where there is family but no tensions, where we have cooked and cleaned and tasted and refused, and somehow it’s all more grown up than what our parents and aunts and uncles are doing back at home.

There’s an odd sort of organization, to youth.

Thanksgiving is picking what I eat carefully, not dividing it into “good” and “bad” as I would have done a year ago, visiting my friends on a day off from treatment, but just being… cautious, of proportions and the decisions I am putting on my plate in front of me. Making sure it’s not too much, figuring out what I really want and how much can really all fit in my stomach. I get to the piece of pie I thought I wanted and realize that I do not, and for what seems like the first time, I realize that I do not have to eat it. There is no table of watchful eyes, scrutinizing what I eat because once it would have been a blessed miracle if I’d so much as taken a bite from that single piece of pie. Except for last year, when I would have eaten it, to make it seem like I was normal, but would have thrown it all back to the world in a toilet, saying no, I don’t want it anymore, please take my insecurity.

There will be no such trips to the bathroom tonight.

Thanksgiving is sleeping in late and laughing with the cashier at the grocery store when yells at me with that affectionate sort of belligerence to “go home!” after seeing me walk in for the second time that day. It’s a weird feeling, when you get along better with the grocery store cashier better than you do your own father. Then again, you see them about the same amount, and one of them has never been given the chance to make you feel small and valueless and wrong.

There’s a terrible irony to it, the ways in which you can be given your daily bread.

Thanksgiving is looking back a year, and feeling that one year ago must really exist in some alien land, far and distant and unfamiliar in the past. Thanksgiving is being grateful that one year ago is not now, is over and gone so that it no longer touches you even at the borders.

There may be a fair amount of denial, but the change is real, too.

And it’s nice, not having needed a holiday to realize all that.

Would you have said the same, yesterday?

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