For a few weeks now, my belly dance teacher has been announcing that the studio would be closed the entire week of Thanksgiving, so “take some time off, eat a lot, and get those shimmies bigger.” Since I carefully avoid the forms of media that most obviously prey on women, that’s about the only message I’ve gotten about Thanksgiving food this year. But that doesn’t mean I’m having thoroughly unconflicted feelings about it.
For one thing, I have yet another stomach bug, so I don’t know if I can even enjoy Thanksgiving food. Not that I particularly do in the first place; I could pretty much go without turkey my whole life and not miss it. What I’m really sad about is not being able to eat a big chocolate chip cookie on the way up. The Amtrak station has the best cookies, and if I don’t feel better by 5 or so, I’m not going to get one, and I will be BORED AND SAD.
For another, Thanksgiving food is a minefield for fatties whether they’re feeling okay or not. In some families, you garner comment if you don’t eat what others consider enough; in others, if you eat what others consider too much. Pretty much nobody’s family considers what’s on your plate to be your own goddamn business.
For a third thing, like everyone here, I have at least one toxic relative. For once, mine isn’t my mom, who has actually stopped dieting for the first time I can remember. But among our guests will be my aunt’s mother, who isn’t even really related to me so I don’t see why I have to put up with her. (Mom says “she’s got nowhere else to go” — translation, nobody likes her.) This woman is brittle, haughty, judgmental, and an absolute pro with a backhanded compliment. She’ll be the worst threat, but my aunt is her Mini-Me, and then my uncle is generally abrasive and misogynist. Then on Friday we’re doing an extended-family thing with my mom’s cousins, who are more of the same — diet-obsessed women and thoughtlessly chauvinist men. Good times.
I know everyone has apprehension about the holidays, being as how they’re food-centered occasions that seem to be the perfect time for your whole family to comment on your weight, your looks, your eating habits, and your life prospects (or just sit there and silently disapprove at you, which might even be worse). It’s a gauntlet. But there are ways that we can make it easier.
I designate this thread for two things: Venting and, um, thanksgiving. Let off steam, right through the holiday and beyond, about your family and their absurd holiday behavior, food-related or otherwise. If they drive you to your room, come here and let us know; if you just know they’re going to irk you beyond words, expound on their worst peccadilloes. But for each complaint, add something you’re looking forward to or something you’re thankful for. (I’m really excited about going to Lee Lee’s Valise! And I was looking forward to that cookie. And I’m so thankful for the commentariat, and for the chance to be part of this blog.) It might not balance out — with some people’s families, it just can’t. But it’s a good reminder that things aren’t that bleak. In fact, paired with some Pollyanna-ish positivity, some of us may find that our families’ foibles start to seem a little amusing.
Well… perhaps “amusing” is a little ambitious. We’ll shoot for “mitigated horror.”