I am Thankful, But I Hate Thanksgiving


I hate Thanksgiving.
I know – I’m not supposed to. Family gathering, lots of good food, people you haven’t seen in ages.
But, I hate Thanksgiving.

In my house we always shared it with another family. Mom cooked Thanksgiving, the other family cooked Christmas dinner – it worked out well. Each of us only had to cook one big meal per year.
But in my house – ugh – what a hassle. We had to set the table 2 days ahead. We had to get the leaves that took our 70:” round dining table to a point where it stretched clear into the living room. We had to have the right tablecloth that dad washed and put away somewhere that he couldn’t remember last year. We had to find every piece of good silver and silver plate that was hidden all over the house.
The food – we always had the same food – sweet corn, peas and onions, mashed potatoes, yams, relish tray – why a relish tray? It’s not like everything was fresh – it was all frozen. Yep open the bag and cook. The mashed potatoes and yams too, they were frozen or canned. The pies were from a bakery – usually the grocery store bakery – now they’re from Costco. So the food wasn’t that special.
My brother and I usually escaped by doing the dishes. But to this day – I have problems understanding which of the flat ware is silver and which is silver plate and why you can’t wash them all together in the dishwasher.
Then the inappropriate people drink. Somewhere along the line – someone started the tradition of drinking butterscotch schnapps. Ick! Why would they do that! Why don’t we have better reception on the TV – we had a couple leave because of that one year!
I just don’t enjoy all of this.
The best Thanksgiving I ever had was the year that my mother in law died. Not for that reason though. She was going to be staying near my family for Thanksgiving and she was going to come over! Way cool! I was so looking forward to showing her how well I took care of my hubby and how yummy dinner was going to be. Then, she passed away suddenly. Hubby and I just couldn’t bear to be around for Thanksgiving. So we headed to the beach (off season), took the dogs and we had a ball. The dogs on the beach, having drinks and dinner in a bar with 4 other people, going to Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner and not having turkey, outlet shopping for Christmas on the way home. It was bliss.
I love to entertain – really I do. I don’t get to do it very often either. My husband and I share a home with my parents and as much as I live here – it’s their house. So, for the longest time – we had Thanksgiving “mom’s way”. Even when she insisted she could still cook a big dinner for everyone – when she couldn’t. She’s got COPD. One year, I came to the house, and was thrust into and apron and my brother and I had to finish dinner because she couldn’t. But even after that – she insisted she could. So it became a hassle because my mother would not let go.
The year that my mother spent 3 months in the hospital due to a massive heart attack, I cooked Thanksgiving at my brother’s house. We didn’t use fancy china, we used the regular flatware, I got to cook some different dishes – and everyone liked them too! Potatoes from scratch! Dad took a plate to mom at the hospital and she thought it was great. But we were back to ‘mom’s way’ the next year.
A few years ago, my brother put his foot down and announced he was having Thanksgiving at his house. Such drama! He cooked the turkey, I cooked the rest – and we had a ball – we even had time to watch the parades and marathon movies and TV shows. Why did this never happen when it was at mom’s? I didn’t get the idea she was having any fun when she was cooking – just fussing at my dad…
I do have good memories of thanks giving – waking up early in the morning smelling the celery, onion and sage of the stuffing that mom was prepping to put in the bird. If I got downstairs quick enough – I got to taste it for seasoning. Why cook it – it was good that way! The days of turkey leftovers afterwards – stuffing sandwiches. Turkey sandwiches mostly. Dad now makes a giant pot of turkey soup afterwards – he throws everything but the kitchen sink in it – and it’s usually pretty good.
But now, it’s arguing with mom that my brother can do Thanksgiving well. That having to take the extra china from here to his house (no – we can’t store it there) is ok. Explaining to her that it’s ok to rent table and chairs, even when we have a table that can extend like Stretch from the Fantastic Four. That he can handle cooking for 12 or 15. Really – she doesn’t need to buy a turkey from elsewhere and have it delivered – he can do that.
He does a nice job at Thanksgiving, really.
But Mom just won’t let go.
So, my hubby and I – we ditch Thanksgiving. The last year or two – we went away – just anywhere. This year I haven’t made plans to go anywhere yet – we may just sit in the movies all day and eat McDonald’s after.
Now you’re going to say that your mom is not long for this world and we should respect her wishes – even if it exhausts me and makes me cranky. Nope. I spend every day with my parents – I love them – really I do. Living with 2 80 year old parents is not always easy – really! So, I take my hassles daily. We live in their house, with the heat too high, not my kitchen even though I’m the one that cooks most of the time, dad doing what he wants with the dog even though we tell him not to feed him extra food, or leave him off the leash, and fixing the TV constantly because they don’t under stand how the satellite dish works, cooking food that is blander than we like, dad constantly second guessing my husband when he’s doing needed work on the house.
I’m thankful every day that I have a roof over my head, insurance, good doctors, a husband that hasn’t left me in spite of my illness and our living situation.
I’ll lead the troops in decorating the house outside for Christmas, I’ll decorate the inside of the house for Christmas, I’ll do the shopping for 12 people, wrap the gifts and stuff the stockings.
I am thankful, but I am letting go of the hassle that is Thanksgiving.
Essay by Linda Kasserman, butyoudontlooksick.com 2008

  • James

    There are really worse things than living with your mother for free.

  • Aunt Jane

    from home and family, on a very strict diet, and glad to be away from football, I asked Him whether to let the day go by, or if He had a plan. I was clearly led to sit down in a quiet place on Thanksgiving Day, ask Him to remind me of all the specific times He used me, protected me, instructed me, etc., and write each incident down on an orange index card. My medium has changed; you can’t buy anything but Day-Glo orange cards now; but the method remains the same. I do write things down as they occur, but Thanksgiving Day is big. It is now my fav holiday, encompassing all the others.
    David said,” I will remember…,” and “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and do not forget His benefits.” I can’t; I know those orange index cards are in that box on my desk: I will never have a moment when I can’t think of one good thing that has ever happened. From this God-inspired practice, I now find myself with a very thankful, grateful heart, every day.

  • Teresa Jones

    There are really worse things than being alone on Thanksgiving. I live with my mother who is 76 and she yells at me the whole time I’m preparing Thanksgiving dinner as my brother’s family joins us every year. Everyone likes what I prepare, but she is just a depressed, bitter person and I can’t afford to move outta here. Yes, I’m thankful, but I hate Thanksgiving too.

  • Madeleine Baier

    I hear you, even if my personal scenario is different. I’m divorced and I live by myself. I have 3 siblings who live relatively close but they’re all too wrapped up in their own little Baier worlds to pick up the phone and ask me if I’m doing anything. I don’t have a car. I know that there are things in my life to be grateful for, and I am grateful for them. It’s just being alone on the holidays that really sucks!! Thanks for letting me vent, sorry for sounding so whiny!

  • Aunt Jane

    I LOVE Thanksgiving Day! As a child, it meant family, food and football. As an adult, I once found myself alone, on a very strict diet, and far away from home. Trying to decide what to do about the upcoming day, I asked the Lord what I should do. I got a clear response: “Get some orange index cards, and, on Thanksgiving Day, remember the times I have worked in your life or used you to work in someone else’s life” I did as I was told, and it was the start of real thankfulness for me. Now the growing card file is in a decorative box on my desk. I remember all the times David, in the book of Psalms, speaks to himself, saying, “I WILL remember…,” or “Forget not…(all His benefits, etc.). I simply can no longer get to the point of saying “nothing good ever happens” or whatever. That box of cards is there. Even if the house burned down, it would still be there, like hearing your mother telling you to put a coat on before you go outside in this weather, even though you’re in your 70’s or 80’s and she died decades ago.

    As I wrote those first cards, focusing on my memories in that quiet afternoon made much more of the whole story come back, enhancing the short version I usually remembered. What an adventure in thankfulness it has been!

    One year, for example, I invited a very elderly friend over for Thanksgiving dinner. We agreed to decorate our place settings with a reminder of something we were thankful God had brought us out of in earlier Thanksgiving Days. She brought cotton and cotton bolls; as a child with very painful scoliosis, she had to pick cotton anyway. I had an i.v. bottle and tubing as a wreath around my plate, a reminder of previous Thanksgiving dinners from the bottle hanging above my head.

    Some years ago, I suddenly recognized that, somewhere along the way, I had gotten a thankful heart. I heard myself expressing it, to God and to others, all the time. Now, right up near the top of my “Thankful List” is my gratefulness that God has given me this thankful heart.

    As I read all the posts here, my heart broke for everyone. I, too, am usually alone on Thanksgiving Day, with very non-traditional fare. (I am thankful that I can exclude football from Thanksgiving Day, unless my alma mater’s team is playing!) As a Christian, I am especially thankful on Christmas and Easter, and as an American, I am especially thankful on Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day and Independence Day. A river of thankfulness flows out of me daily; no matter the pain, illness and isolation of my physical circumstances. And it all culminates for me on Thanksgiving Day, when I can be so thankful for so much.

    I have prayed for each of you according to what you have shared here, and that each of you will have a “grateful heart transplant,” as I did. I’ve learned that, whether you have to endure a family Thanksgiving Day or a lonely one, it can still be a day of thanksgiving.

  • In the real world, there are no TGIF TV special families, no “cookie-cutter thanksgivings” – whatever that possibly could be. It’s a secular holiday to give thanks, and be with people hopefully we love. It’s no more about commerical greed than it is for gas-bagging about how politically and culturally superior we are to American Bruegel peasants stuffing themselves and watching football. We’ve become a nation of sneering fools.

  • Hello

    Not everyone can relate to a cookie cutter thanksgiving. I myself can’t recall any memorable thanksgiving my family has ever had. For some if us it feels like a forced, uncomfortable, obligation. That’s just the reality. Doesn’t mean were grouchy or negative people. If you’re family looks like 90s TGIF TV special then good for you. But we don’t pick our families.

  • aloneonthanksgiving

    My Thanksgiving memories are killing me today. I almost don’t want to be thankful for all the wonderful memories I have. My parents are dead, my husband left when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and one of my granddaughters died this year. My daughters spend Thanksgiving with their other families, and my son lives half way across the country. I am included as a non family member, to sit and watch and remember. Not enjoying the memories today

  • $28355456

    Reading this post and the comments makes me feel awesome about my life. Holidays are enjoyable and stress free for us. We’re just lucky, I guess 🙂

  • rose

    I hate holidays. my husband picks his family over me. he knows his mom is a mean crazy person. yet he goes to her house every year without me.

  • Between the piece and comments, I’ve never seen such energy put into making a problem out of something which cannot be turned into a problem. There really are no guns pointed at you, forcing you to partake of a holiday you hate so much. It’s not like anyone else cares about your position.

  • What a household! I’ll bet Disneyland brings you to the brink of suicide.

  • veggie424

    I hate what it stands for, and I hate that people usually don’t take vegetarianism into consideration.

  • SimonSez

    Careful with that Turkey and the dog…

  • What i dont like about the holiday seasons is it takes days or weeks of build up to the event, and on the day of the event, you’re too tired to really enjoy it. So many days of prep for one day of celebration!

  • Nancy l

    I hate it too, so much money way too much food that people don’t even eat, plus I am a vegetarian and it seems like they but bacon bits in everything so I am left eating olives, mashed potatoes and a roll. I do enjoy the pie but it does not seem like people ever really talk about all the blessings we have. They usually drink too much, eat too much and everyone is miserable the next day. We have a local store that will make the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, rolls and pies for 24.99! I would rather go to the movies to with the people I really like and save that poor Turkey from death! Now I bet he is thankful that i don’t eat meat! Nan

  • Hilary

    On my dad’s side of the family I want to put a spoon through my eye. It’s hot, we have to drive really far and my aunts and grandmother yell at each other so much we want to try and stop them which makes everything ten times worse. This yeear is was just my immediate family and my cousin. It was so nice and much more calm. Why must families fight at Holidays? We have the rest of the year to do it…

  • Hilary

    On my dad’s side of the family I want to put a spoon through my eye. It’s hot, we have to drive really far and my aunts and grandmother yell at each other so much we want to try and stop them which makes everything ten times worse. This yeear is was just my immediate family and my cousin. It was so nice and much more calm. Why must families fight at Holidays? We have the rest of the year to do it…

  • cordelia

    I too dislike Thanksgiving. My husband and I are expected to spend every one with his family and now that we have a house, they expect us to have the dinner here. His cousin has had 2 dinners here and refuses to reciprocate, and there is all of this tension. I think that i will just tell everyone I am working at the hospital from now on and avoid it. What a pain in the ass!

  • Fitz

    I hate thanksgiving as well, it seems like every year when my family gets together there seems to be a comition etc, my mom was never happy, and always ruined my day, and now the slightest thing that goes wrong on thanksgiving reminds me of all the thanksgivings and how much they sucked.

  • Kathryn

    In response to Jodifur’s comment, I must say that I particularly enjoyed your sentence about the best thanksgiving you ever had being the year your mother-in-law died. Although I do understand you didn’t mean it was because she died, I’m not sure if u did mean it for humor. At any rate, it made me laugh and I thank you for that =)

  • Karen

    I cannot stifle my giggle that there are other people who are resenting this holiday as much as I am. For a change of pace, I am taking my 4 teenagers to serve meals to the homeless. I am really thrilled to be able to present this opportunity to them. I was really hoping that feeding my soul (so to speak) would excuse me from forced family fun with my husband’s family. No such luck, they decided to wait for us.
    I find myself so resentful that I cannot gracefully bow out of sharing a meal with a family who is rude to me and my children without it being scandalous and considered unsupportive of my husband. I cannot wait until tomorrow is over.

  • Heather

    I am so thankful to know I am not alone in hating this bogus holiday! It is ridiculous all the expectations and hurt feelings if a dish is not made or a certain table setting not used. Frankly, I would prefer to be at work than deal with all the bs. The worst memory? As a new bride, I cooked for 3 days in a tiny apartment kitchen (no dishwasher), carefully unpacking and repacking our never used china, making sure to make all his favorites. After dinner, as we were heading to our family’s for dessert, I asked my beloved how dinner was. “Fine”. I could have signed divorce papers on the spot. Never again!!

  • I head to deal with many of your same expierences you had while I was growing up. Thankfully because of moving I will not have to deal with family this year myself.
    Think year will be thanksgiving by myself and hopefully sleeping though most of the day 🙂

  • *Deena

    You’re right. It shouldn’t be about the food, the dishes, the seating arrangements, or who does the cooking. It should be about counting our blessings and being thankful for them. And yes, you can do that anywhere, and should do it all the time and everywhere.

  • Rev. Daniel Beegan

    I remember with fondness the Thanksgivings of my high school years and of my early 20s. Great-Aunt Florence and Great Uncle Harold were the hosts and did the turkey. We all contributed something. It was a great time to get together.
    This year, Thanksgiving will be spent alone. My wife died three years ago before Thanksgiving and we had good ones together. Now, only my beloved dog is looking forward to the holiday. She gets her own plate of turkey, yams, veggies, everything but chocolate.
    Christmas at least has a deep religious significance for me, a semi-retired priest.
    But Thanksgiving was a family holiday and the family isn’t on this side of the grass any more.

  • Thanks for a great essay, Linda. Holidays ought to be fun. Do it the way that works for you, and hang the rest. You don’t need to miss the parts of it you like in order to do it the way a control freak likes.

  • Barbara

    Linda, I sort of get the point here but your essay lacked the quality of humor that you were perhaps intending to portray. Especially your statement that the best Thanksgiving you ever had was the year that your mother-in-law died. What an awful sentence to begin a paragraph with!
    Nevertheless, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving, and a blessed and joyous Christmas, with all the blessings of both.

  • Thank you so much for writing this. I also hate Thanksgiving. I host it for both families and no one wants to be hear and everyone is miserable and wish we would all just admit it and move on. I call it forced fun.

  • Sue

    I understand what you are saying. It seems the actual reason for thanksgiving is not there and hasn’t been for years now. Everything seems to change faster and faster as we get older. I would much rather take a trip somewhere than to spend time wearing new clothes and putting up with the heat and hassle of cooking and then cleaning up the mess. Life is short and yes everyone is going to pass away sometime, but so are we so live your life and do not forget the reasons for our holidays.