Friday, November 16, 2007

The Squeeze Phenomenon

This will be a short post. Because it has to be. Why? Because next week is Thanksgiving.

Every year I promise myself the holidays won't be stressful. Every year they are. And this year, I don't get why, for me. This year it's not at my home. We're not traveling, except a couple of miles. And I'm having Thanksgiving with people I love, and even more importantly, really enjoy their company.

So why the stress? Memories of past catastrophes? Trying to get all the work done beforehand so that I can take an extra day off? Tradition?

Or is it something more subtle? Perhaps the grief for those who no longer share Thanksgiving with us? And the realization that we have so much, so much to be grateful for, while others have little or nothing? Perhaps it is a bittersweet holiday?

Readers, what do you think?


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I'm a cynic, Conda. I think the expectation of a "perfect" holiday is shoved down our throats. Be it Christmas or Thanksgiving or New Year's, the TV is chock full of smiling beautiful people surrounded by perfect families and tables burdened with too much food. A tree with too many presents. And if you don't match that picture, you've failed. So we push ourselves to achieve the unachievable, instead of simply being grateful for what we have, for our friends and families. I'm going to Mexico for Christmas, to avoid the disappointment. But I'll be with the Fetched Family for Thanksgiving, and I think that's going to be a lot of fun.

Hope you find a way to destress!

Conda Douglas said...

Your cynicism is well-founded, Beth. And you are so correct.

One of my pet peeves (and one I find stressful): Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Before Halloween. BEFORE LABOR DAY!!! Urgh!

Anonymous said...

I agree, Conda. Wal-Mart was putting theirs out in mid-August. And the Boston radio stations are already playing Christmas carols. I LOVE carols, but not until after Thanksgiving. I just focus on what I enjoy, and ignore the rest.

Jim Murdoch said...

Being British I don't get all the fuss about Thanksgiving despite all the American films and TV I've watched over the years. But I do get family and friends.

I go to great pains over birthdays and Xmas, perhaps a little overboard even. It's not that I feel I'm being judged if I give crappy presents, it's rather I feel that there is a direct correlation between the appropriateness of the present and the level of my affection for the individual, i.e. the more right the present is for the person the more it indicates how in tune I am with them. It's nothing to do with how expensive the present is or how many there are. (Think of the plastic skunk Allen gives Linda in Play It Again Sam).

Thanksgiving meals must be similar; you want to create an environment which will make a whole load of people feel this peculiar sense of belonging and gratitude that seems to be expected on this day. Not getting it right reflects not on your abilities as a host but on the level of appreciation you have for these people. The nice thing is if these are the kind of people worth putting that amount of effort in for, they won't bat an eye if the whole thing goes pear-shaped. In fact it will probably add to how memorable that particular Thanksgiving becomes.

Conda Douglas said...

You make an excellent point, Jim. Last year, we did have Thanksgiving at our place. We brine-soaked the turkey (think of a raw turkey floating in a vat of salt-water)because we'd heard that made it tender. That was a lot of work we wouldn't have done if it wasn't for the family, who as you mentioned, wouldn't bat an eye if it had been horrid. Chinese or pizza (the only places open on Thanksgiving) no prob!

Expressing love and giving love is wonderful, but doing so as per tradition (and there are so many around the holidays) can be awfully stressful.

Nancy P said...

Plus, you've got the exam coming up. No wonder you feel like a small turkey that's expected to feed a hundred people. :)

Conda Douglas said...

That's right, Nancy! I'll be able to breathe a bit better and focus on my writing AND Christmas, after November 28--my exam date.

The Muse said...

We just had a birthday party on Saturday and now everyone is comming for Thanksgiving to celebrate again. I must be crazy! I'm still working on clearing remnants from the party, I have to shop, and then deal with cooking all over again.

I like your blog! I've read through a few posts and will be back to read some more.

Conda Douglas said...

Good grief, Muse! And I believed that only making a couple of dishes (when I love to bake and cook) was stressful! Of course, I also believe all creative people are a bit crazy, in a really wonderful way.

Thanks for your kind compliments and I look forward to having you visit again.