I think I may have accidentally made a Faustian bargain this week.
Those of us who live in the United States just celebrated Thanksgiving. This day typically marks the beginning of the Holiday Season for us. It seems that once we hit that fourth Thursday in November we are all buckled in for the remainder of the calendar year.
“Many of us repeat the same dinners, events, and rituals – year after year.”
In such a short amount of time – about five plus weeks – we endure Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Shop Small, to travel or not to travel, decorations, parties, shopping, and gift buying. The last five weeks of the year, for many of us, are prescribed from a lifetime of legacy. Most of us repeat the same dinners, events, and rituals – year after year. Many of us find comfort and joy in knowing what’s to come and how it will unfold. However, some of us may feel trapped.
What happens when we decide that we no longer are interested in repeating history? At 58 I have made and hosted Thanksgiving over 32 times (give or take). As a Cuban-American, I celebrate Noche Buena (Good Night) which takes place on December 24th. Both of these events are riddled with tradition and expectations. The menu is very specific, the guest list fairly consistent, and the flow of the affair predictable. Honestly cannot remember how many of these I’ve planned, prepared, and executed over my lifetime.
This Year Is Different:
“What if I don’t host Thanksgiving?”
For the first time in my adult life I am experiencing the Holiday Season from a bird’s eye view. As I write this week’s Jack’s Smack in my AirBnB condo overlooking the Caribbean Sea in Cartagena Colombia, I am at peace with my choice to boycott the expectations. Expectations placed on me by society, friends, family members, and well, mostly, ME.
What if I don’t host Thanksgiving? What if I don’t decorate for Christmas? And, what if I decide to forgo the 30+ people in my home on December 24th? Will the earth keep turning? Will my people remain my people?
Well, here I am after the Holiday Season starting gun event of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes to tell you “yes”.
The Travel Continues:
I spent the entire day of Thanksgiving prepping for my trip. There were bags to pack and hair to color and chores to finish. My partner took on the full responsibility of planning, prepping, and executing the meal. He enlisted help from his daughter, but for the most part he held the reins. Our gathering was small. We hosted my partner’s sister (and dog) from Atlanta, his adult son who resides in New York City, his college-aged daughter, and my son, Aidan. Overall a fairly quiet affair.
Now, I wasn’t a complete slacker. I made a wild mushroom stuffing dish that has been on the menu for over 25 years and is a crowd favorite. The nice part about that particular prized casserole is it can be made the day before. You know the day that no one is in the kitchen and there is little to no pressure about having it come out perfect and on time. And while it is labor-intensive, I make my own breadcrumbs, it was a guest expectation I chose to deliver on. Read that again, I chose.
It Gets Better:
“I broke a lifetime cycle of “just because I’ve always done this like this.” “
As if that isn’t enough to indicate a deal with the devil. After dinner, I sat at the table while my kitchen slowly transformed from a chaotic grease-riddled disaster to the spotless sanctuary that it normally is.
I sipped my wine while our three kids helped my partner package up leftovers and rinse and load dishes. Counters were wiped down. The floor vacuumed. Slowly the remains of the holiday frenzy made its way into Tupperware or the garbage.
I watched and experienced a wash of relief and peace. I broke a lifetime cycle of “just because I’ve always done this like this.”
And here’s the deal, Faustian bargain or not, I am staying on this new path of “if it brings me joy then I’ll choose yes!”
I know, I know… some of you may be shaking your head. The Holiday Season is just starting. Will I stay true to this new mantra throughout? Only one way to find out….stay tuned.