Every Thanksgiving I feel the same. At the end of the night, when that lukewarm malaise of gravy and watching people watch football washes over me in bed, I think, “What the hell just happened?” I seemingly can’t discern whether or not my day was good. Did I enjoy myself? Was it fun? Did it even happen? I never nail the holiday; it always feels like something is missing. Thanksgiving is like leaving the house and forgetting to put on deodorant. It’s also watching YouTube videos with a laptop on my belly at 9PM on a Friday night. The feeling is always uncomfortable sedation. As a kid, I must have pondered the holiday on my first go-around,
“OK, so this isn’t Christmas. There aren’t any presents as far as I can tell. Also, no signs of Jesus, so, this is just...dinner? Super special extra thankful dinner without Jesus – got it, got it.”
I haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving with family in over 7 years. Good Lord, I’m not flying home to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving – that's insane. My family would smell the desperation. I think if I showed up in my hometown for Thanksgiving my Mom would say, “Tone it down, will ya?” For me, Christmas is the main attraction. It doesn’t get any better than episode 1 of Jesus. How good is Christmas? It's actually two holidays, and if it was up to me, every celebration would be a Feast of the Seven Fishes. That’s right, I brought salted cod instead of cake for your office birthday party, Zach. Also, look, Thanksgiving is a month before Christmas. Do we really need to be celebrating a pre-Christmas? I thought that’s what Christmas Eve was. Like President’s Day – Thanksgiving has just been another confusing excuse for me to get drunk for the last 5 years.
In the last half decade, I’ve done a Friends-giving and they’ve all been refreshing and needed. Taking a holiday and turning it into a drunken gorge fest has been a highlight of my late 20’s and early 30’s. Everyone’s busting chops and inside jokes are flying around recklessly. Friends talking shit and shop. Two years ago, Avery Moore and I made lasagna, and that day started with bourbon shots at 11AM. It’s always been a huge party where nobody gets laid. Actually, that sounds like the tagline for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving: You Won’t Be Fuckin’. So, my usual tradition has been hanging out with friends on Thanksgiving. But, this year, I’ve decided to do something different. This year, I’m going to volunteer. Why? My friends suck.
That’s right. My friends are now so bad, I’ve decided to go volunteer my time in a kitchen to avoid them. That’s how much I hate my friends. They’re always whining about how things in their life aren’t perfect or they’ll say something like, “We should play a board game!” Ugh. Shut up. Honestly, I wouldn’t have to go volunteer for Thanksgiving if my friends were at least a little bit interesting. But no, they’re always going on about some movie they just saw or this new album they really like. Somebody I barely know will inevitably say, “Hey, we should hang out sometime, like outside of Thanksgiving,” then I’ll have to slip away with my trusty line, “Oh, shit. Hang on, my Mom is calling and she has cancer.” This line has never failed me, and I will continue to use it so long as my Mom has cancer.
Also, none of my friends know how to cook. As far as I can tell, they only eat boiled hot dogs. Recently, a peer had the audacity to say to me at a party, “Oh man, if I knew they were going to have hot dogs here I wouldn’t have eaten hot dogs at home.” I never think it’s possible to hate my friends more than I already do, then somebody will make green bean casserole but forget to blanche the green beans first. They’ll just throw it in the oven and wonder why the green beans taste like candle sticks, and then I end up excusing myself to the bathroom to scream into a shower curtain. Two things I know for sure: I’m not flying home for Thanksgiving, and I'm tired of having to repeat myself because one of my self-absorbed acquaintances is buried into his phone.
So, I’m going to volunteer this year. I just can't imagine a scenario where I’ll miss Thanksgiving. It just isn’t special to me. If it isn’t special to you, maybe give volunteering a try. Maybe you’ll want to do it more often. At the very least, you’ll likely make some new friends.
If you’re in Austin, the folks over at Do512 have compiled a great list of places you can contribute here.