A Turkey-Day Story


So here we are, hip-deep in our American holly-daze season. Feelin’ the love yet?

Much of the reason for the vibe in the air this time of year is due to tradition — that “this is how we’ve always done it” kind of thing. Does it always have to be that way, though? Especially when “the way it’s always been done” has been kind of blah or hurtful? A friend of mine (we’ll call her Amber) has taken some painful roots and transformed them into her favorite holiday. If this time of year is stressful for you in a not-good way, let her be an inspiration.

When Amber was a kid, her family made an annual pilgrimage to a family friend’s house about 50 miles away. They were mainly friends because the husband had turned her parents onto some trendy-at-the-time alleged home remedy for ensuring her mother had a son, which they believed succeeded. Amber was the firstborn, but had the bad sense to come out female. So when her brother came along a few years later, it was to the sound of great rejoicing in the little family. As a result, this yearly road trip was more than a bit torturous for her, as her brother got special Golden Penis attention, along with a cargo of Christmas and birthday presents to take home. Amber got a bellyful of pumpkin pie and turkey like everyone else, but was slightly above the household dogs, status-wise.

Fast forward about 30 years. Amber’s family has moved out of the area, so the Turkey Day pilgrimage is thankfully (no pun intended) in the past. Amber’s dad died long ago, and her grieving mother responded by having family Thanksgiving feasts at the local Home Town Buffet for the rest of her life. In 2010, Amber’s mother died a week before Thanksgiving. That was a great opportunity to lay this depressing-assed time of year to rest and officially join the ranks of the holiday-disaffected. Would you have blamed her? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

That year, their neighbors provided them with a full Thanksgiving dinner from Safeway, in sympathy for their mother’s passing. They were gobsmacked on a whole new level — even this relatively simple spread provided more grub than they could eat in a week. So Amber reached out to a guy she’d been dating for a little while; like them, he had no family with whom to spend the holidays.

Now, three years later, she and her Mr. are going strong. This family — comprised solely of them and her brother — is tiny, but happy. The Mr. loves to cook, and Amber makes chocolate wine cake each year for dessert. The only symbolism involved there is that it’s hers, and isn’t anything like what any of them had growing up. Plus, y’know, chocolate. And wine.

So if “how we’ve always done it” doesn’t suit you, change it! Give less energy to keeping the safe-but-miserable status quo and more to making this a genuinely “happy/merry” sort of season, in whatever form that takes.


Mona Treme sees a lot of evidence that [insert deity’s name here] has a sense of humor, and not just in the mirror.