November 21, 2006

The Tribal Holiday

It’s hard to justify all the turkey and the fixings for a Thanksgiving feast when there’s just the two of you. I like to cook and share old family recipes. However, my husband’s family is in the UK and my family is in Canada and many of our friends with kids like to host their own family feasts, so we’ve made alternate plans over the years.

Usually, there is a group of neighbors and friends who have family living far away. Some are childfree, divorced, widowed, or otherwise available to share a Thanksgiving meal with a non-relative. These are the people we celebrate with.

The last couple of years, my friend Debra and her family have hosted. They have a table that seats sixteen. Guests have included assorted neighbors, the kid’s college friends and, last year, two injured professional hockey players who couldn’t travel with their team. It’s always a different crowd and everyone brings a dish, so there is plenty of food.

This year, half of our Thanksgiving tribe will participate in a 5K Drumstick Dash for the local Rescue Mission. This way we can justify the extra slice of pumpkin pie later that day and support a worthy charity.

Some people wonder what the Childfree do during the holidays. My response: we cook, we overeat, we share tables with people we don’t see often, we laugh, we play (or watch) games, we nap when we can and dream of leftovers.

Sound familiar?

[Photo: Originally uploaded to Flickr on November 26, 2006 by prodigaldog]

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AlphaGirl said...

Some of my best Thanksgiving memories have been created while sharing a meal in a friend's home with people I have either just met that day, or have not seen in awhile.

Thanksgiving will be quiet for me this year. I know one thing for sure: I won't have to listen to kids whining about who got the biggest slice of pie, how the potatoes and the turkey are touching and they can't eat it, and so forth. My quiet nature as a kid gave me a free pass from the "kids table", so I spent most family Thanksgivings asking the little ones to quiet down; sometimes the whiners were older than I.

Once I outgrew family holiday meals, I made it a point to have them as CF as possible. Just some good friends, good conversation, wonderful food, and the freedom from listening to kids whine. Combine that with the peace that comes with being with people of my choosing, and it's a can't-miss combination. =)

Anonymous said...

Holidays are about family, and this definition can wear many hats. At times ones own blood can feel stranger than friends we just met. The point of Thanksgivining is to be thankful. I would argue that more Childfree families are more thankful during these times. Not just because we don't have all the extra pressure of kids and such, but that we are living life on our terms. That we have found our path. Instead of being a parent -looking across the table and wondering what life would be like if this child had not come to earth. Instead we are present in the moment, enjoying the laugher and good times, knowing we can do it again anytime of the year. Not just because it is a holiday. The pressure to conform rests directly on the shoulders of the childunfree couples. As they have walked away from all the treasures we today are thankful for. As we say our thanks with a smile, and they with a long sigh. Thanksgivining is truely a joy as we sit and rest without wondering when our next demand might come hurling from the other room in the form of earth shattering screams. I sit right now with a tummy toooo full, and count my blessings today- I am childfree and thankful.

Teri said...

No turkey on my table this year. I have only attempted it once before and given that a huge turkey carcass left-over would mean my husband and I will eat turkey for a week or throw it out, I opted for a large Pork loin roast. Same flavor profile, lots easier and it still went great with Aunt Helen's Spiced Cranberry Relish (from scratch). Now this would not have been a good menu choice for my Muslim or Jewish friends, but I got away with it this year, and it was fun to make Thanksgiving special for someone else by hosting this time!

As a childfree couple, that moves a lot and does not own a table to seat more than 6 comfortably, we usually fold into other family plans. The few occasions where we have broken with tradition, are the most memorable. When I was single, I volunteered to peel shallots all night for a notable chef in San Francisco on Thanksgiving night. I ended up working for him a year later. When I used to horseback ride, I remember riding to the hounds on Thanksgiving morning with a group of other riders. Now that was a glorious morning! I would have been happy with a TV dinner that night.

I don't like to think that parents are not thankful for their children. I think it's dangerous to assume all parents must be unhappy with their choice, just because we feel so happy with the obvious perks of our childfree lives. Most however, would agree that parents certainly are lacking sleep and time for outside friendships - those not revolving around raising the very best kids they can. A huge task for sure.