I will spend Thanksgiving taking photographs. I’ll also eat some turkey and dressing. (It will be cornbread dressing made with the Southern Living recipe.) I’m probably going to a movie, too.
My day will be much like Thanksgiving for millions of Americans, but with one major difference. I’ll be spending my day alone.
Since I have no family of my own, I get invitations from kind friends every year to join their families for the day. I’ve had at least three sincere offers this year, including one as I left the office Wednesday afternoon. I always feel a little guilty turning down their kind offers, but the truth is that I’d rather be alone.
That’s misleading, though. What I’d really love — more than anything else in the world — is to spend Thanksgiving and every holiday with a wife and children who I love. But if I can’t have that, I’d rather spend the day alone — until I can finally start building the family I want and need.
Most people seem to feel sorry for those who choose to spend holidays alone, but I don’t understand that. There are quite a number of us who are happier alone than we would be spending time with other people’s families. It’s not that I don’t like other people — especially those nice enough to invite me — but it’s simply that I can’t get what I want from a “family holiday” without having the loving and stable family to go along with it.
My childhood memories of family holidays are mostly terrible. It’s hard to say why, but my father always seemed to find ways to be angry at someone in the household on Thanksgiving and Christmas, so there always seemed to be fear in the air. I remember bits and pieces of his angry outbursts on such days — such as the Thanksgiving when he angrily broke a measuring cup in the kitchen — and I remember walking on eggshells for the rest of the day.
As I’ve written before, our holidays were more “Norman Bates” than Norman Rockwell.
I think this is why I’ve always had such a fantasy of having happy and loving family holidays. I don’t need anything grand or expensive. I just need a warm and loving home with a wife who loves me and with children who know they are loved and adored. (And it would warm my heart to be able to take happy and loving photos of a wife and children on holidays, too.)
It’s not social interaction I need with others on Thanksgiving. It’s my own family that I need. Hanging out with somebody else’s family wouldn’t fill that need. At its best, it could just remind me of what I don’t have. At its worst, it could bore me silly and make me wish I were at home with Lucy and the cats instead.
I have a vivid picture in my mind of what I need. When I find the woman who also wants that — and wants to build it with me — we’ll see whether we can make that into a reality. Until then, I’ll spend my family holidays alone — by choice.
The very best way to spend a family holiday would be with my wife and children. The second best way to spend such a day is by myself. Spending it with anybody else — and pretending that it somehow substituted for what’s missing — would be the very worst choice.
A happy and loving family is the best thing a person can have in this world. If you have that, it should be at the top of your list Thursday to be thankful for.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving. I’ll enjoy mine alone — and I’ll be deep in thought and hope about the family Thanksgivings which I hope are still to come with a wife and children who love me.