I have made the hard decision to stay home on Thanksgiving.
Would I rather be with my family, eating my mother’s sublime stuffing, and helping her put details in order? Oh, you bet.
Despite the fact that I would be the only non-Trump supporter at the table, this decision wasn’t made based on the election or what I think of the President. At least not in the way one might think.
My choice was based on COVID-19 and how alarming the numbers are at this point. So I guess technically the fact that I will take the chill-and-stay-put option on Thanksgiving is somewhat based on Donald Trump — his recklessness on the pandemic from the beginning despite what we’ve heard he knew (as recorded by Bob Woodward) and his non-action even now as the virus rages in so many areas where staff and beds are reaching and exceeding capacity.
I could let myself be furious at the complete lack of responsibility this President has shown with regard to this pandemic, at how differently this could have turned out, but I’m choosing not to be.
Do I place much of the blame on him? Yes, I do.
Am I going to let it eat away at my sanity? No, I’m not.
I love myself too much. I’ve been so emotionally exhausted from this man for so long that I finally feel like I can breathe and see some light. A solo Thanksgiving isn’t ideal, but it isn’t the end of the world.
I am very fortunate. I adore where I live – my town, my apartment, all the stimulation outside my door. I happen to be an introvert who was already doing a fair amount of work from home, so I’ve been able to weather this absurd year better than most.
That has been, and will continue to be, my expression of gratitude, not just this holiday or this year but undoubtedly for the rest of my life. Like pretty much everyone else, I’ve had my down moments, been scared for my health, gone a little stir crazy. But I’ve also allowed myself reflection time. The learning and teaching I’ve done since March have been transformative.
Once I felt safe doing so, I began self-care in the form of eye and dental exams and a gynecological checkup. I now own dumbbells and I’m learning to get creative after my gym closed its doors permanently.
Because so many in my immediate and extended family are deeply offended by what I write in these columns about Trump, especially when it comes to race relations, I have gone even deeper in my examinations of that aspect of my beliefs and who I am. Bottom line of what I know – if there is indeed a divine day of reckoning when we die, I could never look my creator in the eye if I didn’t write every word I’ve written. I simply could not live with myself if I didn’t vociferously speak out against the kind of discrimination Trump practices.
I was given a gift and I believe it is my obligation to use it.
This will continue to cost me relationships, I suppose, but nothing I’ve said in the last month is any different from what I said four years ago or even longer than that. It’s always been who I am. Being who you are can be hard. But as author Glennon Doyle likes to say, we can do hard things. I can do hard things. In fact, I must do hard things if I want any kind of meaningful life.
Back when I became a journalist in the 1980s, relatives would say, “Nan, you should write about our family.” I would smile and say, “I’m not sure that would go the way you think.” Not because I don’t love my family, but because I don’t think they understood what real writing would reveal and entail. Sure, we’re colorful and wacky in the most endearing ways like most families, but we’re also dysfunctional and fragile and not at all schooled in the art of authentic communication. Loyalty to groupthink has never been a specialty of mine and it definitely isn’t now with all the election drama.
In spite of all that, if things were different with the pandemic, I’d be jumping into the family fray. Once I made my decision, I was sad about Thanksgiving 2020 for a few minutes, but then resigned myself to our current circumstances. I even let myself go down the path of “what if it’s my elderly parents’ last one” but then quickly rebounded. Why? Because I have enjoyed the heck out of my parents for many years and few of my favorite moments with them involve holidays. A cup of coffee at the kitchen table with my father or an old movie with my mother on a random Friday are better memories than any holiday I can recall. That’s special and I built it with joy and care.
This Thanksgiving, while Trump’s pandemic shakes the nation to its core, I’ll be consuming sub-par food and counting my many blessings.
And that’s just fine.