When I think of Thanksgiving, I’m surprised that I still like to get together with people after some real awkward times. The “holiday season” should be filled with “holiday cheer”, but a number of times it wasn’t for me.
One time I was with my family for Thanksgiving. It hadn’t happened very often because I many times have had to travel the longest distance of my family to get together with them. This time one of our youngest had just received horrible news from someone at school: Santa Claus didn’t exist. The child cried and cried. Many of my family said that this other person was lying, was stupid, and were convincing her that Santa does exist. That was the Thanksgiving mood at the time I arrived.
Just before we served the meal, I was confronted with the question. “So, do you think that person was right in saying that Santa doesn’t exist?”
I asked back, “Well, does he exist or not? Is it better to say the truth about him or not?”
“What?! You’d allow someone to say something to destroy someone’s Christmas?! You’d allow someone to totally tear down a child’s hopes and dreams? You know how much she cried? You know how close we came to having her Christmas totally ruined?”
Oops. One person was so upset and angry that it upset and angered another. And because this second family member was upset and angry, it ticked off another, and then another. That’s right – it was a huge family domino effect.
So, I got to sit down to a Thanksgiving meal with just about everyone mad at me. Somehow the food just didn’t taste all that great that night.
There was a time at Thanksgiving that I couldn’t be with my family. An elderly lady felt sorry for me and said I could travel to her place and share the Thanksgiving meal and time with her family. Unfortunately, she didn’t share with me about how her daughter felt, who was totally against my being there.
It seemed to be okay when I got there. I had a nice, peaceful chat with my friend. We went to church later on that evening. There I got to see her daughter, who ignored me when I saw her. I was surprised by that.
After my friend and I got back to her house, her daughter didn’t say hello to me, but was visibly upset. “Why are you here? Why did you even come here? Don’t you know that Thanksgiving is extremely private, and that NOBODY outside of my family IS ALLOWED? Why did my mom invite you here when she knew that? I think you manipulated her. Don’t you have your own family to go to?”
To keep the family peace, my friend dropped me off at the local Salvation Army that Thanksgiving Day to have turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and everything else with the homeless people in that area. Even though I felt humiliated, the people’s stories there were worse than mine. I actually had something to be thankful for.
Of course I left town that next day – quickly.
One Thanksgiving break I was looking forward to seeing a girl with whom I had a “long-distance” relationship. That summer before we had started our relationship, but my work and her work were in two cities that were far apart. However, we were looking forward to this week-long break to see each other again.
One thing that she mentioned to me just a couple of days before I was to go see her was that she was also inviting her ex-boyfriend over to stay at her place for that time. “What? Why on earth would you want to do that?” I was caught off-guard. But she insisted. I protested.
“Please come up. I really want to see you.”
“Okay, okay. But why still invite him?”
“He’s still my friend. We saw each other a couple of times, and we’re doing alright.”
“What does that mean?”
“We’re kind of seeing each other.”
Right then I was ready to call off everything.
She insisted again. “No! No! Please come up! It’s been so long since I’ve seen you. I really want you to come here. Please. I don’t know that I want to see him anymore. Let’s get back together.”
I hesitated. “Oh, all right.”
“But please, when you come up here, don’t tell him anything I’ve told you here.”
When it comes to romance and relationships, sometimes we guys act like bulls chasing a matador’s cape. All we see is red. I should’ve had a clue. But I ignored every red flashing alarm in me telling me not to go. I went.
On the trip to see her, my car started to break down. I barely made it to her folks’ place. So, I felt trapped there while my car was taken to the local mechanic.
The next day I saw her – holding hands with her ex! She saw me and gave me a hug, and introduced me to her “ex”. You know the feeling when your stomach drops to your knees, all you feel like doing is throwing up, and in that moment you use all of your strength to just to appear normal? It took all of me to manage a smile, shake his hand and say “Hi.”
After I shook off the shock, the whole family sat down to eat. Unbelievably, almost miraculously, I acted normally, as if nothing was happening. However, deep down inside, I felt totally like a 5th leg on a chair – totally unnecessary.
Here I was – I was far away from home. My car was getting worked on. Any way to continue having a relationship with this girl were gone, and I had to stay in this environment … for the rest of the week. As I thought about it more, I decided that I had to do the unthinkable – tell this “no-longer ex” what was going on.
I got a chance to talk with him the next day. He was shocked. Later on the next day, the “stuff” hit the wall – my friend called me. She was mad. After her call, we didn’t talk for the rest of the time I was there until my last day there. Just imagine how empty my Thanksgiving time was.
I wish that the trouble I had that Thanksgiving ended there when I left. But it didn’t. I got my car back, although the mechanic said that there was more to work on. I was anxious to get back home.
Less than halfway home, my car didn’t want to run anymore. In the middle of a large city where I had no friends or contacts, my car stopped. I had no clue what to do. I don’t know if I felt more alone than at that point.
Thank God for friends. I called one for help. He recommended a friend, who let me have my car towed to his place, and took me to the bus station. A month later, another friend came out a long distance to fix my car, and other friends drove me from my home to reunite me with my fixed car and kind friends.
But, oh boy! What a memory!
too recent to tell – USA