Well, I did it. I prepared Thanksgiving dinner in my own house for my parents. It was just the three of us. The children were with their father.
Since my marriage ended years ago it has been our practice for the children to be with my ex-husband for Thanksgiving and with me for Christmas. See, All I Want For Christmas is My Kids. So, I’ve been kid-less for many Thanksgivings. I’ve spent a couple of Thanksgivings with my best friend and her large, extended, ethnic family. They are very nice and welcoming and I had a good enough time, but it started to feel weird being alone with someone else’s family. Two years ago I did absolutely nothing (I think, I can’t remember). Last year I went out for Thanksgiving dinner with my parents. We didn’t go to a really nice or fancy restaurant, more like a diner, a nice diner, but a diner, nonetheless. The food was okay, but I found the whole scenario depressing. There were a lot of older people, elderly people. It smacked of a refuge for souls who had no where else to go.
So this year, I decided to stay home and cook dinner at my own damn house. I decided this on Monday, declining my mother’s offer to have Thanksgiving at their house. That can be (has been) depressing as well, going “home” for Thanksgiving, completely alone, feeling like a grown child, the only child who never moved away (which I count is a personal failure), knowing my sisters are with their families at their homes, knowing that my children are with my ex-husband’s wife’s family. Just thinking about going to my parents for Thanksgiving felt like it was one small step above being the middle-aged single man living in his parents’ basement.
No, I have a home, I reasoned, and even though the children wouldn’t be there, I decided that I would serve Thanksgiving dinner to my parents. Plus, it’ll give them a break.
I’ve hosted Thanksgiving dinner before, but that was in The Big House (formerly the marital home) for my (now Ex) in-laws. This was different. This is my home, alone (except for the bank). My little home that gets very few visitors, despite its extreme makeover. My little home to which some of my kids are too embarrassed to bring their wealthy friends. My little home which has a very nice, slammin’ new kitchen.
So I cooked, for me, for my parents. Cooking does not give me any joy. See Confessions of a Skinny Mom. Still, it was so much less awkward than being at the restaurant. My Mom and Dad ate my food; they were appreciative, and it was good. And though my long-married parents have a tendency to bicker (huge understatement), today they did not. I can’t help to think that it was the locale of the dinner. Had they been at their own home, they would have fought.
In some ways it was my first grown up Thanksgiving, because it was my home, and more importantly, my decision, as opposed to just figuring out how to pass the time while the kids are gone or making sure my parents have somewhere to eat (or, in the old days, doing time with the in-laws). Now I’ve christened my house as our family home. It only took three years.
Weird that my first Thanksgiving dinner in my own house did not include my children, but at least they know that holidays can happen here in our new
Just Me With . . . leftover Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and something crossed on my bucket list that I didn’t even know was there.
My daughter recently asked me if she could fake being sick to get out of spending Thanksgiving with her Dad’s new wife’s family. Of course I said no. She’s a kid, and basically she has to go with the grown-ups. But it got me to thinking. For an adult, who, for whatever reason, wants out but doesn’t want to offend, here are some excuses to use to get out of the holiday dinner.
1. Fake illness.
Yes, my daughter is a genius. A stomach virus works best, because no one wants the prospect of developing diarrhea after sharing a big meal with you. But food poisoning is perfect — it only lasts 24 hours, so when you show up at the stores on Black Friday after having skipped Thanksgiving with the family, you won’t be “outed.” Ladies, just don’t use blush the next day. You’ve got to look a bit pale when seen in public again.
2. I have to study.
Students, you are very, very lucky, you’ve got a built-in excuse. The higher the education, the easier it is to use. When I was in law school, all I had to say was — exams. People pretty much left me alone. I would imagine a simple word like “dissertation” would send people backing slowly out of the room. I used the “exams” excuse once. Actually, it was true, and effective. I ate a convenience store turkey sandwich and studied at home alone. Very relaxing, and productive.
3. Fake or exaggerate your child’s illness.
Okay, this one seems creepy, but even if your kid is on the mend with barely a sniffle, you could rock the “I don’t want to expose him/her to everybody,” excuse. Then you sit home, watch movies and cuddle. Again, very relaxing.
4. Pick a fight with your significant other.
You really have to want to skip the dinner to do this, but let’s face it, we probably all know how to do it. Then, tell him/her to figure out what to say because “I’m not going.” The offended significant other can consult this same list. Bonus, your significant other may bring you back a plate.
5. For those expected to travel, say you just can’t afford it this year.
It’s tough out there. You can’t afford a ticket, gas, car needs repair, whatever. You do run the risk that someone will offer to pay your way. If that happens, carry your butt to dinner, you’ve got good peeps.
Just Me With . . . a holiday opt-out plan.