How I Left Behind Expectations to Create the Perfect Holiday
It’s 6:00 p.m. the night before Thanksgiving when it happens: I put on my pajamas. I sigh happily because I know I’m not taking those pajamas off until Friday. I’m about to have my perfect holiday — doing nothing.
“What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” people have asked me all week.
When I say, “nothing” I get the sympathetic head tilt.
I can see it in their eyes. “That poor thing has nothing to do on the holiday.”
When I add, “It’s going to be great” or “I love having no plans” people look confused. Sometimes they think I really want to have plans and give me a pity invite to their event. Sometimes I can see them wondering what is wrong with me.
Here’s the thing: for some of us, the best holiday is no holiday.
Holidays were a source of drama and misery for me as a kid. As an adult, I spent many years yielding to boyfriends or determined friends who insisted that I had to spend holidays with their families. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the invitations and sometimes I even had fun, but it wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing.
Some years I succumbed to holiday pressure and had people over to my house to create my own kind of holiday. Again, sometimes I had fun, but it was also a lot of work and stress and frankly, not what I wanted to be doing.
Several years ago, I decided I had enough. I decided that from now on, I was going to have Rose’s Perfect Thanksgiving.
What does Rose’s Perfect Thanksgiving look like?
I sleep in. I stay in my pajamas all day. I read. I watch two shows that I never miss on Thanksgiving. First, I watch Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving, and just like I’ve done for over 40 years, I laugh my ass off when Snoopy fights with the lawn chair. Then I watch “Pangs”, a hilarious Thanksgiving episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.
Other than that, I do nothing. Literally.
Sometimes my roommates and I will cook something and leave it on the kitchen counter as a buffet. Sometimes we won’t cook at all.
That’s the beauty of Rose’s Perfect Thanksgiving: no expectations. No requirements. No drama. No hard work. Only me, my pajamas, and a beagle boxing with a lawn chair.
The thing about holidays is that they are so fraught. People stress out about how they’re going to deal with their racist Uncle Bob or whether their dad will be drunk or whether their disapproving mother-in-law will criticize their cooking. They spend a ton of money and time to make a lot of food that people binge on until they’re in a food coma. They feel resentful that they have to beg people to do the dishes. They stress out about traveling and weather and the need to have the impossible ideal of a fantasy holiday.
Then there’s the hypocrisy of the holiday. A white-washed fantasy of pilgrims and Indians that forgets about the part where Native Americans were slaughtered and forcibly removed from their land. The hypocrisy of saying how great it is to have your family together when they drive you nuts in the best case scenario and are abusive in the worst case. The hypocrisy of celebrating immigrants who came in the 1600s to be free of persecution while we persecute the immigrants and refugees trying to come here in 2019. The hypocrisy of expecting low-wage workers to keep stores open for your holiday purchases while you get to be with your family.
But all that aside, here’s the thing: I think we should all do what brings us joy on the holidays. Life is too short for anything else. If having a big fancy Thanksgiving with your family truly brings you joy, awesome. If it doesn’t, make another choice. As for me, I’ll get my own joy — wearing my jammies and doing nothing.