“So what are you doing for Thanksgiving?”
We all encounter this question at least once a year, but should you live in LA, be prepared to answer it many times over. Los Angeles is a city of orphans. I know few natives – even those from California are usually not from LA proper – which necessarily means that no one has family with which to share the holiday, though many will give thanks for that reason alone. Me? I’m thankful to have a cornucopia (I love topical words) of wonderful friends in town, and since moving here have yet to be alone for the holiday that commemorates how impressively the average American can eat. Truly, I am grateful, as nothing can make one feel lonelier than the prospect of spending Thanksgiving solo…
St. Louis, Missouri. I actually lived there once upon a time. Lovely town. Not a fan of their baseball team. Anyway… I moved to The Show Me State just after high school – my first attempt at college – but had gone on sabbatical for a bit. We’ll just leave it at that. My roommate, like most twenty-somethings, wanted to get the hell out of Dodge for Thanksgiving in order to squeeze out a few free meals and loads of laundry from her parents. I would have gone home myself, but was prevented to do so by a higher calling: Blockbuster Video. Though spared the injustice of having to work on Thanksgiving Day, I was scheduled both the day before and after, so they still managed to successfully screw me out of my holiday. Oh well. Didn’t think much of it.
Until Thanksgiving Eve. Alone in my apartment, it dawned on me that I didn’t have anyone with which to spend the next day. I had some friends in town, but it was way too late to call. Plus, if they hadn’t already invited me to their festivities, then I wasn’t about to force myself upon their holiday. Hi, awkward. Meet third wheel.
I made a concentrated effort to push my growing self-pity to the side and instead focused on how awesome it was to have the entire apartment to myself. I could do whatever I wanted! I decided to take full advantage of the situation and promptly ODed on television until I passed out. The hibernation continued well into Thanksgiving Day. Sleeping has never been a problem for me. I am a champion sleeper. Don’t even understand the word insomnia. Yet my sweet slumber was suddenly interrupted by a knock on the door. Who in the world would be bothering me on Thanksgiving Day? My dad, that’s who. Knowing that I would be completely alone on this holiday, he drove three hundred miles to make sure that wouldn’t happen.
After me getting over the shock of seeing him, and him getting over the shock that I was still asleep, I realized something – there was no food to eat. My cabinets contained only the essentials: cereal, ramen noodles and peanut butter. No mashed potatoes. No stuffing. No turkey. I turned to my dad, embarrassed that he would have to eat mac ‘n’ cheese for Thanksgiving dinner. He then kindly suggested that we take a ride to the local Schnucks.
Though I warned him repeatedly, my dad was still surprised that not a single grocery store was open in all of St. Louis County. But this wasn’t Chicago where at least one Jewel is around for the inconsiderate shopper with poor time management skills. This was St. Louis. Forget holidays. Stores in this town still shut down on Sundays.
We looked at each other. What to do? All the restaurants seemed to be closed as well. The streets were totally deserted. Pretty sure I saw a tumbleweed roll by. And that’s when we drove past it… a 7-Eleven. Yes, we were out of options, but this was just too sad. I pulled over. My dad exited the car and returned minutes later with two hot dogs. Our Thanksgiving feast. While everyone else in town was loading their plates with candied yams and cranberry sauce, here we were in my Saturn coupe, eating unspecified animal parts. But I wasn’t alone. I could have spent the entire day camped out on my couch, channel surfing while trying to convince myself that this was just some stupid holiday that didn’t mean anything to me. Thankfully, I had a pretty rad father who knew better.
Thanksgiving isn’t about where you have it or even what you eat. Doesn’t matter if you celebrate it in a parking lot while scarfing down the “2 for a $1” special at the local Kwik-E-Mart. If your holiday is shared with at least one human being whom you love, then cheers. You indeed have something for which to be thankful.