I put Thanksgiving in quotes because I don’t really celebrate it. In college, a professor said Thanksgiving is really a celebration of the slaughter of Native peoples. I stopped celebrating right then and there.
I used to eat a frozen TV dinner by myself on Thanksgiving Day in protest. But, I’m ashamed to admit, over the years, I’ve gotten more lax in my protest of this “holiday.” I’ve given into societal pressures and gone to people’s houses to eat occasionally, I even made macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving once. I don’t want to raise my future children to celebrate Thanksgiving, but if I’m being totally honest, I’m willing to compromise on this if it’s important to my future husband as long as we teach our children what really happened on the first Thanksgiving. What can I say? Being woke is a constant process and I still have a ways to go.
I did grow up celebrating Thanksgiving, however, which means this day is full of memories of the sweet potato pie with Nilla Wafers on top my grandmother used to make. One of the things I miss most about my grandmother is the food she made. It was the best food I’ve ever had, and I can’t believe I’ll never have it again. It’s amazing how many of our memories are about or involve food, how much food is a part of one’s culture and the ease with which food brings people together.
I also miss my grandmother’s hugs, how soft she felt and her scent. If I had known my last hug with my grandmother was the last one, I’d’ve savored it more.
None of these things were on my mind until yesterday. I had been feeling very aggro/irritated for the last couple of days and then yesterday, someone said something to me that really hurt my feelings. Like, to the core of me hurt me and I thought, Why am I so emotional right now?
So of course, I turned to my trusted confidante, mentor, role model and honorary big sister, my older cousin. I called her and she said you’re emotional because it’s the holidays and we just lost our grandmother last year. I thought to myself, Oh my God! How could I not have realized this on my own?!
Suddenly, the emotional rollercoaster I’d been on for the last couple of days made sense. When my grandmother died, an ex-friend told me even if you forget that it’s the anniversary of your loved one’s death or it’s her birthday or some other special day associated with her, your body knows. So if you feel really upset and you’re not sure why, think about what day it is and if the date is significant because of the person you lost.
I actually don’t feel as bad today as I did last night, but I know the holidays, and all the talk of being with one’s family, will be difficult for me for some time. I’m just thankful I’m more aware of that now. So if you’re with your loved ones today, cherish your time with them. Hang on their every word. Savor that last hug and kiss you get before you leave. Because I’d give everything I have to spend five more minutes with my grandmother.