Tis the season, that magical time of year when I am forced into confined spaces with family members I never communicate with and strategically avoided the last 364 days of the year. We put our differences aside and unite for the sole purpose of consuming unhealthy and equally irresponsible portions of food and alcohol in between watching football and avoiding eye contact. As if the rewarding punishment of spending the holidays with my own family wasn’t enough, my common law marriage commitments obligate me to spend at least one holiday a year, Thanksgiving or Christmas, with my significant other’s family too.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy choking down my future mother-in-law’s disgusting mayonnaise based potato salad and overcooked turkey on Turkey Day while the family peppers me with increasingly invasive questions as much as the next guy.
Who cares if the majority of these Family Feud-like questionnaires are directed at me from a parade of family members who besides having the commonality of alcohol on their breath all seem concerned about knowing why I haven’t asked their daughter/sister/aunt/niece for her hand in marriage despite my willingness to have premarital relations in our cohabiting house of shame and sin. If I’m really lucky I can discuss my intentions with her x-boyfriend who conveniently enough is recently single and was invited to dinner by her mother. I shouldn’t worry about that though since he assures me they are strictly friends, even if he is surprisingly interested in the details of my future plans with his former boo and current BFF. Naturally I enjoy reliving this annual experience as much as any man who would rather be doing anything else on Earth.
In actuality, it’s not that I don’t like her family. I love her family as much as I love my own, which is why I want the opportunity to treat her family like mine. You know, barely acknowledging each other except on major holidays when we go out of our way to log onto Facebook and write a semi-friendly, passive aggressive message on their wall or simply Like their “Happy Thanksgiving” status update.
Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? Being thankful I don’t have to spend time with these people. Like the typical American, I prefer to spend time with my family when tragedies force us to come together just long enough to remember the rest of the family is still alive, and judging by the number of out of wedlock newborns, is apparently continuing to expand. Having said our piece, we silently disperse into the night like vampires to wreak havoc on the common folk until another family tragedy brings us together.
But, resistance is futile. So instead, I put my head down and force myself to eat her mother’s delicious homemade cranberry sauce from a can. I laugh at her drunken uncle’s unfunny jokes and pretend I haven’t seen her brother’s new YouTube videos from last month. Each Thanksgiving I sacrifice one of the few mandatory vacation days I have because acting like I don’t dislike her family and they don’t dislike me for a maximum of 24 hours buys me another year of not having to put a ring on it and for that blessing I must give thanks.