Monday, October 9, is Canadian Thanksgiving or as Canadians call it, Thanksgiving. Every year since 2012, I have cooked traditional Thanksgiving meals for my family, especially my husband, and our friends.
In 2012, my first time, it was just the two of us and we shared in the cooking activities. Our meal was a humble little Turkey leg along with the usual fare. In 2013, nearly 5 months pregnant, we did better and with proper planning, I was able to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal by myself. Aaron did everything Turkey related. We even invited five of our friends to join us and had a really good time.
We did the same thing in 2014. I cooked the entire meal, all except for the turkey, and we invited even more people this time. We were a total 11 people including us and our newborn child. I was 7 months post-partum.
In 2015, we moved to California. We invited my one friend and her family over and Aaron’s one friend. The day before the event, our kitchen sink clogged and we nearly canceled the meal (or did this happen in 2016..I can’t even remember right now). Thankfully, because the landlady acted quickly, we were able to get it fixed the next day and only had to postpone the gathering of friends until the day after. I was 5 months pregnant.
In 2016, we invited even more friends. I was 7 months post-partum.
Here is my post from Canadian Thanksgiving 2016.
That brings us to 2017 and I am exhausted. For some reason, this time of the year feels “heavier” than all the last years near this time. I don’t know what it is and I can’t pinpoint the problem. Hosting major events is generally stressful (see the linked post above) but it was never an issue until this year.
Last week, after mulling over it overnight, I told Aaron that I did not want to do Thanksgiving this year.
I feel guilty about it because I am not able to give my Canadian husband the holiday with which he grew up. I also feel guilty because I am depriving my kids of a family tradition, OUR family tradition where their Indian mother who didn’t know what Thanksgiving even was, growing up, cooks up an awesome Thanksgiving meal. I feel guilty because I am not able to give of myself to celebrate this day and make it a memorable one, yet another year…I don’t want this year to be remembered as the year that their mom canceled Thanksgiving. Alas, it will be so.
And yet, I feel so tired that I just don’t think I have it in me to cook a traditional meal for 10-12 people. I did not skip this tradition even when I was pregnant, both times, and even when I was only 5 and 6 months post-partum respectively. I did it because I found joy in it. I did it because I was creating a tradition. I did it for my kids. I did it for my husband. This time, I am NOT doing it. For me.
The date crept up on me and usually that is not a problem. The menu is set so there is no additional thinking over what to make and what to skip. Aaron loves all that I make and heartily devours the leftovers for a few days after. The kids, even at their young ages, already have their favorites. At least, TJ does. Teju was a happy taster last year and didn’t object to any of the foods.
I know Aaron is not the happiest with this decision but he has to live with it. He didn’t question me when I calmly told him that I was not going to do Thanksgiving this year, effectively “canceling” it.
Actually, I had already blurted this out the last time we had people over (but before everyone got here). We were a total of 13 people. The thing is, I love having people over. I really, really do. I enjoy people once they are actually here and I am able to chat with them, laugh and make memories with them, and just the sheer camaraderie is enough to keep my soul warm for a few months.
The problem is things that lead up to that point of joy. The menu planning, the thinking of contingencies, the grocery shopping, the plan Bs, the cooking, the presentation, and the self-imposed pressure to have everything just right. Sometimes I slack on my own standards but mostly, I do observe them and it is when things don’t go as planned – liked a burned casserole after spending at least two hours from prep-cooking/baking, or wanting something to look a certain way and that stupid thing not cooperating…all this builds up to a point of stress. Just like a pressure cooker building up steam ready to explode if not allowed to vent, I similarly get engulfed with the pressure to have things done the right way and when that does not happen, I get victimized by my own expectations.
When something similar happened that last time, not to mention the kids who were also driving me simultaneously crazy, I just broke down in a puddle of tears and said I was done doing such gatherings of people. I was tired then. I am tired now. Always. Like, there is never a time I am not tired. I just don’t think I can handle anymore of such physical and emotional stress and for what? Ahem…for all of the reasons mentioned above having to do with guilt and tradition. Still…since I said it and Aaron only calmly said, “okay” (I would give anything to know what he was thinking right then, in that moment when I said that), I have been having mixed feelings.
A. I feel, again, bad that I am not giving my husband his holiday.
B. Then I rationalize thinking, when has he ever given me a holiday I grew up celebrating? Did he learn to cook traditional Konkani foods I grew up eating and ones I crave for on occasion and especially did during both my pregnancies? Nope.
C. Would the kids prefer a happier non-Thanksgiving-meal making mother or a grumpy, irritable, unhappy mother more?
D. I will still make all the traditional dishes. I’ll just make them for the 4 of us and we can celebrate our own little holiday, with just us. It will get more fun as the kids get older and are able to participate and appreciate it more. I hope.
E. I am doing something for myself for a change. Just like joining the gym, I am prioritizing me and what makes me happier and calmer. An unhappy and non-calm me is NOT where I want to be and neither do my kids or husband.
…among other things.
Unbeknownst to me until a few days ago, Aaron has planned to get our friends together for a Thanksgiving (or similar) meal at a restaurant that actually serves Thanksgiving food. I feel extremely conflicted about this.
A. Why didn’t he just try to talk me into hosting the meal? I may have been convinced.
B. Thanksgiving! At a restaurant! Really? Isn’t that a little sad, especially when we could just make it at home?
C. He craved so desperately for a Thanksgiving meal that rather than ask me to cook it or make it himself, he’d rather just plan this whole restaurant thing? I feel even worse now.
…among other things.
So at it stands, we will be meeting friends for lunch at a restaurant this time. Whether we order Thanksgiving meals or not, remains to be seen.