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Are you alone on Thanksgiving? I’m there with you in spirit. And by “spirit” I mean “alcohol.”

November 23, 2011

While shopping at Whole Foods earlier this week and somehow racking up a $200-plus bill even though I don’t eat meat and am temporarily, unhappily, off dairy and eggs — Golden Delicious apples are apparently made of actual gold — a cashier, bagger and manager processing my return all asked with pesticide-less, free-range cheer, “Whatcha doing for Thanksgiving?”

My immediate, internal response was rife with non-FDA-approved hormones. The truth was stinging my stomach like conventionally grown tomatoes. I wanted to say, “Nothing. OK? Nothing. But my cats really love me, and I have a blog about my life with them.”

Instead, I thrice coughed up a syrupy “Happy holidays!” before pretending to be distracted by a sale on soy milk. 

The truth about my barren holiday social calendar has been eating at me for days, and like a moldy container of leftovers in the fridge, I kept pushing it further back in hopes that the problem would just somehow vaporize. It has not. Now, turduckens and I are stewing in our own juices; I wish I could sit at a big table and not eat bird on Thanksgiving with boisterous blood relatives whom I can barely tolerate who feed me into oblivion and then serve the pies. Because that’s the American way.

By all accounts, aside from getting dumped and growing a tail, I’ve had a pretty good year. A couple of my essays are being staged in New York City. I went to Cape Town on a whim at the invitation of a kindred spirit I’d never met before. I have the most beautiful cats in this and as-yet undiscovered galaxies. But that doesn’t make me feel any less lame about being lonely at the holidays, and it doesn’t keep me warm at night. OK, technically, it does keep me warm at night to the point of being overheated, because Isabel sleeps on my head. I hate when I undermine my own arguments.

We've reached the part of the post where, apropos of nothing, I include a photo of Isabel and Teva cutely crammed into the same cozy cup.

With a full plate stuffed with inedible blessings, I feel like a douche bag for bitching about my lack of Thanksgiving plans. It’s similar to that scene in “Notting Hill” when everyone is whining about their dreadfully hum-drum lives in competition for the last brownie, and then Julia Roberts opens her mesmeric multimillion-dollar mouth and complains about the stress of being the highest-paid actress in the world and the burden of being beautiful. Or maybe I’m a douche bag because I just compared myself to Julia Roberts.

Most of this is my fault. It’s my choice to live far away from my family. My job also requires me to clock in, whether or not Christ is coming or going or Columbus is sort of but not really discovering America or trees are … arboring. And thanks to blogging, I’ve spent much of the past couple of years cultivating friendships with people in faraway places and in nations where Thanksgiving is not celebrated. Once again, my lack of foresight is astounding.

But as my friend Suniverse astutely noted, “On the plus side, you can start celebrating South African holidays, like Nelson Mandela‘s birthday and … Merry End of Apartheid?”

To that I say, Freedom Day is commemorated April 27. Mark your calendar, blacks and whites. We’re gonna party like it’s 1994 and we were just granted universal suffrage.

As for now, if you’re like me and have nowhere to go over the long holiday weekend, we will make it through this Thanksgiving together. And by “we” I mean “you and me and booze.” Because, thank cats, vodka is vegan.

P.S. Because it’s Thanksgiving — emphasis on the giving if you’re not totally self-involved like I am — I’m hoping you might be able to join me in offering moral or financial support to Liz, who’s looking for sponsors as she runs four races in four cities in memory of her mother to raise money for Mind, a mental health charity in England and Wales. Yes, that’s right, she’s a Brit and doesn’t even celebrate this holiday. Let’s show her what it’s all about.

P.P.S. asked me and others to write a post “from the heart” about “personal gratitude” and link to its site to promote a grassroots global fundraising campaign. Pretty sure I failed in all possible ways. But it’d be awesome if you check them out.

42 Comments leave one →
  1. iampisspot permalink
    November 23, 2011 5:52 AM

    I love you a million times more for this post (in a totally non-creepy way). Thank you so much! I have been so deeply moved by the support and generosity offered by the blogosphere, friends, family and virtual strangers. I am completely overwhelmed right now. Completely. Overwhelmed.

    Andddddddddddddd here come the tears AGAIN.

  2. claire permalink
    November 23, 2011 5:58 AM

    I hate to burst your bubble, but “Happy End of Apartheid” isn’t going to work out for you either. The Media Secrecy Bill was passed in South Africa just yesterday. R.I.P. democracy {1994 – 2011}. We do however celebrate National Braai Day on September 24th, and it’s an excellent excuse to eat copious amounts of saturated animal fats and shorten our life expectancy by overindulging on the local brews…Cape Town, September 2012? yes…I thought so…

  3. November 23, 2011 6:00 AM

    [I’ve spent much of the past couple of years cultivating international friendships with people in nations where Thanksgiving is not celebrated.] that sounds awesome! Happy Thanksgiving from someone who doesn’t celebrate it either 😉
    We should be thankful more than once a year and probably not have such high expectations about holidays in the first place.

  4. iampisspot permalink
    November 23, 2011 6:01 AM

    And also, as for the lack of plans for Thanksgiving etc – just inform people that your virtual girlfriend, iampisspot, is English, and therefore you don’t celebrate it, and then just mention casually that we do a joint celebration thing involving our cats instead. Or something along those lines, y’know, feel free to omit the creepy virtual girlfriend bit, oh and also the ‘doing things’ with our cats which *totally* sounds like a euphemism for a lesbian love fest. Your call.

  5. November 23, 2011 7:42 AM

    I’ll be home on the actual Dia de los Turkeys, but back to work on Friday (joy). And since I can’t eat, Dear Sweet Mama is gonna have to put me some turkey and dressing in a blender!

  6. November 23, 2011 8:42 AM

    you would be quite welcome at my ‘thankful for strays’ party… it’s a shame you are a thousand miles away… we will raise a slice of vegetarian pizza in your honor.

    and by the way, not only is t-giving a bit over-rated, it is just there with ALL holidays in that regard. re-setting your brain to not give a fractional f*kk is the key…

  7. November 23, 2011 8:59 AM

    You could come to my family party! It’ll be a feast filled with awkwardness, drama and probably a few tears as my brother intends to inform 3 of our older relatives (all over the age of 90!) that he’s getting divorced. Again. If we can skate through the day without needing to rent some defibrillators, I think I’ll consider it a “Win!”

    The upside? Me being gay doesn’t seem NEARLY so much the disappointment to the family next to that…

  8. November 23, 2011 10:41 AM

    And *that* is why I’m the lucky one, having never celebrated Thanksgiving due to a long-ago family tragedy and thus though I have no plans tomorrow, that’s totally okay because you CAN’T MISS WHAT YOU’VE NEVER HAD.

    At least, that’s what I tell myself late at night, as I lie there, with nothing and no-one covering my head.

  9. November 23, 2011 11:45 AM

    I took my cat home with me and ended up forgetting to take off his rainbow collar… And that’s how I came out of the closet.

  10. November 23, 2011 11:52 AM

    I will think of you, enviously, while I am introducing The Boy to my grandfather and sitting through dinner wondering when my decision to drag the whole family to hell with me by living in sin with him will come up. I pledge not to ruin the holiday by saying what I really want to say: “technically, it’s the sex that’s sinful, not the sharing of a roof, right? Because I blew up THAT bridge a decade ago.”

  11. Jessica permalink
    November 23, 2011 1:41 PM

    I’ve been edging to the vegan side for a few months now. not all the way, but “primarily”. I feel really good from it, and it is helping with shedding unnecessary lbs.

    I am thankful both my kids are going to be with people who think Thanksgiving is an awesome excuse to overindulge in sugar and saturated fat, so my thrifty homemade vegetarian meal for two will last a week in leftovers.

    Seriously, the antidote is “do not drink the koolaid” with all the hype.

  12. November 23, 2011 2:31 PM

    We’re still celebrating Merry End of Apartheid, right? Because I already ordered the balloons.

    I love you so very, very, VERY much. Truly. That may not keep you cat-warm, but I think it’s right up there with vodka-happy. Right?

    Happy Wednesday.

  13. November 23, 2011 3:01 PM

    You’re bringing that vodka to work tomorrow, right? RIGHT?????

  14. November 23, 2011 3:11 PM

    alcohol? cheers.
    do they make tofurducken?

  15. November 23, 2011 4:29 PM

    I think I’m going to have to take issue with your “my cats are better than yours” tag…….

  16. November 23, 2011 4:33 PM

    Wish you were closer. You could come beef up my woefully unattended vegan Thanksgiving, in which I cook everything and have a panic attack because I am a control freak.

  17. November 23, 2011 4:47 PM

    you could NEVER fail in ANY possible way!

    i think the company of your cats is the BEST company that you could have! I’ll trade ya! I have been there done that with being alone on the holiday. Funny when we are alone all we want to do is be with people. When we are with people, we just want to be ALONE!!!!!!!

    You can wear what you want, eat what you want, drink as much as you want (but don’t drive!), watch sappy movies, whatever!!!!

    “Togetherness” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

  18. November 23, 2011 8:45 PM

    Thanksgiving is boring anyway! Enjoy your alone time and send some vodka over to Ohio, kthnx. My Yellow Tail Pinot Noir ain’t cuttin’ it anymore.

  19. November 24, 2011 3:32 PM

    I spent last Christmas alone with 2 cats. I loved it! Cats make everyday a holiday in my opinion. I’m taking lessons now.

  20. November 24, 2011 8:56 PM

    I am generally on my own at the holidays. I don’t like to travel, anymore, and I don’t enjoy other people’s traditions. That just seems unholidaylike to me, strange traditions. The feel of holidays is about your own traditions, right? Or am I just supremely selfish in a way seldom seen?That’s quite likely, really.
    Anyway, today I broke out the cinnamon rolls, and just like that, frosting made everything awesome.

  21. November 24, 2011 11:43 PM

    Time to pass a new law preventing supermarket service staff from asking personal questions. Just think of all us uninformed Aussies who don’t even know what date Thanksgiving falls on, and you’ll feel instantly better.

  22. redg_rl permalink
    November 25, 2011 1:01 AM

    I’m round this weekend Madam AWC &
    would’ve gladly invited you to the annual
    T-Day clusterf*ck. We could’ve marched
    around my aunt & uncle’s house together
    with signs to protest about how there’s nothing for us to eat… & how offensive
    it is that no cats are welcome. What is
    wrong with my family?!?!?!

  23. November 25, 2011 2:00 AM

    babycakes, I hear ya. there’s something about being alone for holidays *by default* that sucks. and if you’ve just been recently dumped, it underscores that aloneness. I was worried how I’d feel today because I was meant to spend it with “his” family, but it was ok. mellow. stress-free. I say screw these family holidays simply because they exclude those of us without. boo, I say. hugs across the country.

  24. November 25, 2011 2:48 AM

    I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving … with cats. I could probably spend $200 at Whole Foods just on wine, fruit, and chocolate.

  25. November 25, 2011 1:05 PM

    “…we will make it through this Thanksgiving together. And by “we” I mean “you and me and booze.” Because, thank cats, vodka is vegan…”

    You know I hate it when you refer to my spirit as “booze”. Also, vegan.

    If it makes you feel better, I spent the American Thanksgiving on an 11 hour bus ride, watching poorly dubbed movies while the scent of urine wafted through the air (probably because I was sitting next to the toilet).

    I did see a cat, though.

    Naturally, I thought of you.

  26. November 26, 2011 1:28 AM

    As far as I’m concerned all holidays suck! And should be cancelled. As Sheriff of Nottingham says in one of those Robin Hood films: Cancel Christmas!
    But remember your coolness, plethora of blogging devotees, kitty cats, and the fact that someone you have never met invited you to another continent!
    If that doesn’t work thank goodness you’re not me: I’m getting off on the poetry my Year 8 students are writing. . . suddenly feel less pathetic, don’t you?

  27. November 26, 2011 1:29 AM

    PS Or, pretend you’re in Oz. . .we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. . .for obvious reasons. We don’t even know when it is!

  28. November 26, 2011 4:30 AM

    As long as you have vodka, you’re never really alone. I finally figured out the trick to the perfect Thanksgiving. No family. We abide by a strict “friends only” rule.

    (The vegan diet is just so sad. For most intents and purposes my family is also vegan. Vegans who eat fish, feta cheese and Turkey on Thanksgiving. We’re not fanatics after all.)

  29. DMama permalink
    November 26, 2011 5:23 PM

    My family will gladly accept new members to harass and annoy on all holidays. But once you’re in, you can’t skip holidays without an excuse that includes severe fever and/or vomitting, death or birth. Crying at insults is accepted and encouraged.

    That’s the best picture of Teva & Isabel! I love it!

  30. Carolspy permalink
    November 27, 2011 3:06 AM

    I was thinking about you Thursday I was in Yosemite where there is barely a cell signal to be found. Just tons of hiking. What? You’re running so I can hike!

    Anyway, I was grateful for you, my long-time friend, and your funny writing, and how your funny writing is my closest brush with celebrity.

  31. November 27, 2011 6:55 PM

    awww. I want to give you a hug and make you a turkey.

  32. November 28, 2011 12:09 AM

    I thank God for Thanksgiving. Cooking a Thanksgiving turkey totally justifies serving leftovers to my dog and four cats every single night simply because the one feline with a thyroid condition will not take his medicine if the Golden Compounded Prescription Medicine is not mixed in with fresh poultry.

    For the rest of his life, he (and the rest of the pleading-eyed pets) will eat far better than I will.

  33. November 28, 2011 9:20 AM

    If it makes you feel better, I celebrate thanksgiving alone every year. And by celebrate, I mean ‘ignore’ because we don’t celebrate thanksgiving here.

    Anyway, you’re welcome for the perspective.

  34. November 28, 2011 6:57 PM

    I’m trying really hard to think of any Thanksgivings where there weren’t horrible fights and I didn’t hate one of my relatives. Wait… I can’t. There weren’t any. Next year I’ll secretly come to Boston, not tell my parents, and make a giant Turkey out of vegetables for you. How about that?

    We had Thanksgiving at a friend’s house and I got so angry at my son, who was pissily complaining non stop about everything in the universe, including Thanksgiving, that I made him get out of the car and walk up the driveway. Happy Thanksgiving!

  35. November 29, 2011 4:22 PM

    Happy Thanksgiving! I think celebrating Thanksgiving with Cats is pretty damn awesome…but don’t tell my dogs…they have cat issues…well one of them does the other one loves the world 😉 Peace.

  36. November 29, 2011 5:54 PM

    That is great that you’ve connect with people internationally I’m hoping to do the same thing! It would be great to cultivate these relationships, as you say, so I can visit them and stuff them. I mean bring stuffing to them for eating, stuff them sounds kind of ominous doesn’t it? Anyways, happy holidays to you and your two beautiful little furry munchers.

  37. November 30, 2011 3:19 PM

    We were all bitching at each other before we pulled out of the driveway – Actually, hours before we pulled out of the driveway and headed off to my parent’s. Then the 16-yr old back straight into Matt’s truck that was in the drive (yep, great idea letting HER drive) which lent itself to more yelling. There was no turkey because my mute brother’s girlfriend is allergic to poultry. Except my mute brother and his girlfriend were NOT THERE. My Dad went on a rant about government conspiracy theories, which are always delightful to hear, regardless of the holiday. My Mom insisted on playing Super Scrabble – which is Scrabble… times three hours of your life. The teen was pouting and refusing to talk to anyone because of the whole backing into a bright red parked vehicle thing. The 10-year old kept asking if we could go home because she was bored of watching us play Scrabble and someone kept plying the toddler with chocolate. And that person is called HIS FATHER, who thought it was funny watching him get more and more hyper and my dad shouted things like, “HEY! DO YOU WANT ME TO GET THE STICK?!” at the kid. Feel free to join us any time. In fact, do you have plans for Christmas? Because Christmas is WAY more exciting….

  38. November 30, 2011 4:40 PM

    ohh haha I totally remember that scene in notting hill! that was a good movie!


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