The past few days leading up to today I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media and the like about Thanksgiving. Among the most popular has been the Black Families Thanksgiving hash tag on Facebook and Twitter. And while these are meant to be more humorous than anything, they are rooted in being relatable to black families across the board. But it’s things like these that remind me that I don’t much relate to the people’s depictions of the holidays. I never grew up in a house packed with relatives during the holidays. I (thankfully) never had to deal with insensitive aunts or uncles questioning me about my life choices, or my parents embarrassing me the way some of my friends’ parents have.
Up until very recently, Thanksgivings at my house have always been quiet. Thanksgiving was my mother who once worked three jobs in order to provide and averaged maybe four hours of sleep, waking up at six in the morning to cook. It was the smell of her second cup of coffee drifting its way upstairs to my bedroom, its smoky scent coloring the edge of my dreams.
Thanksgiving was my mother and I eating on TV trays in the living room. It was my mother falling asleep on the couch at odd hours of the day while I read or watched recorded reruns of The Jeff Corwin Experience on VHS.
It was putting up our rather scrawny Charlie Brown-looking Christmas tree overloaded with ceramic angels, handmade ornaments I made in elementary school, wooden apples, and tinsel. (Oh god the tinsel. Our tree was practically metallic with tinsel. We would find tinsel around the house in odd places for months afterward.
My Thanksgivings may not have consisted of a full house, but they were full nonetheless. So here’s to the quiet Thanksgivings. The Thanksgivings where the table is set only for two (or maybe there’s no table at all). Here’s to the Thanksgivings of the overworked and underpaid. Here’s to the Thanksgivings in single parent households.
in my old coat pocket
in your awful hand,
and I wonder
if you still have things like these,
this detritus from relation-shipwreck’s past
washed upon the shores of your new life,
and why I haven’t yet found the strength
to let these things lie buried