Thanksgiving is a really hard time of year for me. It is one of those holidays that puts into sharp relief how very single I am. I am happy with my life, I am making my life into the kind of life I want to be living and am extremely grateful that I’m not in an unhappy, unsatisfying and sad lesbian foot warming* kind of relationship.
However, when you were in a relationship (or 2 back to back relationships, in my case) where you were creating a family… Thanksgiving is just one of those family holidays where you feel extra weird when your day to day family doesn’t involve other people.
Just like Bad Fat Days, which happen to all fat activists and body loving fat people, being Single in Sharp Relief can be jarring even for the most ardently happy single person. But we already have all the coping mechanisms we need to get through it, just like Bad Fat Days.
The first thing I like to do is to be really grateful for the opportunities I have because I’m single. Thanksgiving is obviously an appropriate time of year for that, though I do a gratitude practice year round. Historically troublesome as it is, it is nice that Thanksgiving is a time when all the folks in the US are reminded to be grateful for what we have.**
*Holidays can be really stressful for couples and I get to enjoy the holidays in whatever way I decide to do them.
*I have a lot of self-reflection time.
*I get to think more critically about what I want out of my life and where I am going without worrying about compromise.
*I get to decide where I go on a Friday night without worrying about compromise.
*I get to flirt with any other single folks wherever I go.
*I get to save money or spend it on myself when I have it, rather than lots of money spent on couple gifts/activities.
*I don’t have to worry about the stresses of dealing with my partner’s people or family.
*I get to focus 100% on my family of choice and origin.
*I can have the high priority of travel without worrying about my partner not being able to come along or making those compromises.
Of course, that’s not to say I wouldn’t love to have a special someone in my life–I am a serious nester and do enjoy making the magic of a relationship. But I think the more you get involved in creating the magic of your single life you take a more critical eye to constructing a relationship that brings out the best in both of you, instead of defaulting to compulsory couplehood. Believe me, I was in two back to back partnerships for 5 years and both were big giant lesbian plunge situations. Nothing carefully constructed.
My BFF Rachael actually pointed out to me recently when I was talking about bad dates making you jaded that being jaded can be a good thing. “It makes your expectations for people’s behavior higher, which is good because you want to have a critical eye towards giving away your affections.”
So, in the meantime, it is nice to be in a place where I am excited about singlehood and focusing on the positive, even in the face of the Thanksgiving single stress.
As far as holiday plans I am in a unique place because my immediate family is very small (just my mom) and my extended family is scattered and only about medium size. I have spent my fair share of Thanksgivings and other holidays being another family’s 5th wheel or sidecar with my mom. Now I am a total free agent when it comes to compulsory holidays. Because it costs so much to travel and I always have had some sort of employment that requires my attention around the holidays, I’ve only been back home to the Bay Area for Christmas once in the last 7 years.
Being a free agent for the holidays is really exciting because I can figure out what I want to do and have creative community gatherings. This year I am really excited to share a Thanksgiving table with some of my favorite Brooklyn artists and have a turkey served from the glorious hands of Sarah Jenny wearing a vintage apron.
*See Episode 6 of FemmeCast to learn about that phenomenon.
**Sometimes when you’re so stuck in your personal pity party, you need to reach out to your friends to help out. Big love to Kentucky Fried Woman and Ally for their help with this entry and reminding me why I am glad to be single even during Thanksgiving!