Dear Crabby Lady:
Ever since I graduated, it’s the same fight around Thanksgiving. I don’t have a lot of vacation days, so I can’t leave until Wednesday night, I get home late, my bus is always delayed, everyone argues about this the entire next day which takes away from the entire reason I go through the time and trouble to get there, and then I have to repeat the process on Sunday. It all seems counterproductive. How do I fix this, short of using all my vacation time for Thanksgiving and Christmas with my parents?
Is It January Yet
Here is a radical notion I would like to advance to many people:
If you are a grown-ass adult, don’t go home for Thanksgiving.
I devised this strategy the year I flew from the West Coast to the East Coast, changing planes in Minneapolis (and back), to come home for three days, just to turn around and do it again. The airports were a madhouse, I got sick from my sister’s new baby on the last day and had to fly back with a fever, we were delayed in Detroit, I sat in the airport with a bag of crushed ice from Burger King on my head in an attempt to bring my temperature down. I realize this was a particularly bad travel chain of events, but it is when I had the notion of not ever doing this again.
Unless you live in the same general area as your family, don’t go home for Thanksgiving — unless you absolutely love it and find absolute joy in doing so. Why do we spend money to travel for three days when most people don’t get the day after Thanksgiving off any more, only to have to do it again the following month? We do it because of this Hallmark Channel vision of families around the dining room table eating turkey and the truth is generally very far from it.
But Crabby Lady, I hear you say, What about the joy of the holidays? What about seeing my family? I don’t know why you can’t go have joy on another day, to be honest. Why does it have to be on the fourth Thursday in November? My family celebrates the December holiday on a random weekend day in December, because a family member is in emergency services, and always volunteers to work on Christmas because they don’t have children and aren’t Christian, so that the people who do and are can have their holiday. We exchange gifts, we eat delicious food, and we spend a pleasant interlude together in an uncrowded restaurant and drive there and back on roads that are not choked with insane traffic.
I once worked with someone whose family was scattered across the globe; they held their holiday gathering in January, when airfare was cheap and there was no competition for vacation days at the office. People would be so–affronted–when he would tell this story. But you can’t have a tree! Oh it’s so sad. And his answer was always that the lack of stress around getting together far outweighed any sentimentality anyone had. People in the family genuinely enjoyed getting together once a year, instead of fighting crowds and stress and spending untold amounts of money to fly over the December holidays.
Broach this to your parents when you go home for Christmas: I hate how every year in November, we seem to fight and get stressed out because I always arrive late and feel like I have to turn around and leave immediately. What if we just focused on getting me home for Christmas instead? Just like you had to get used to not having Christmas vacation after you graduated, your parents also have to have a little time to realize that things have changed, that you’re an adult with obligations and a life, and you don’t have a week to take off at Thanksgiving and then another week to take off at Christmas. And it will be weird to not go home that first year. But you will get used to it. And maybe some years you will decide you want to go home, but then you will be going into it with the kind of spirit that will make it enjoyable for you and everyone.
Eat some turkey for me. I am going to eat Korean food that day myself.
Do you have a real life problem? Concerned about adulting? Need some help? The Crabby Old Punk Rock Advice Lady is here to help! Email her at COPRAL@bitterempire.com
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