Thanksgiving Hangover

My Thanksgiving hangover this year is not from too much alcohol but instead from too much of the rich beige foods of traditional Pennsylvania Thanksgivings that my body’s no longer used to and feels sluggish on. That’s not enough to keep me from eating a plate of leftovers this afternoon, though, while we watch the US vs England World Cup match. I’m grateful that part of the Thanksgiving tradition in the US (for many) is to have the day after to recuperate. For many it’s a huge shopping day. Not me. I don’t like shopping and am definitely not going to do it with crowds. In fact, I just did an on-line “Brown Friday” Plum Village Event through in the spirit of desiring less consumerism.

Anyway, my favorite part of this Thanksgiving was the build-up the day before. I was in touch with many friends whom I don’t talk to as regularly anymore but who still hold a huge space in my heart. Sweet surprises from the past and friendly responses regarding my Favorite Thanksgivings post I went to bed Thanksgiving Eve feeling all the love.

I woke up Thanksgiving morning with much anticipation for a good day. I showered, meditated, ate a pumpkin-oatmeal cookie with my coffee, painted my nails, curled my hair, put on a sassy black and brown skirt and sweater number and off we drove…about an hour and a half away…to a family gathering…that turned out to be as dysfunctional as my own family gatherings. (No offense…read on.) The turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy were the stars of the show in my opinion. Oh, and I was grateful for the green bean casserole as it added a little bit of color. I was disappointed that there wasn’t any cranberry sauce. Even though I’m somewhat of a foodie, I still look forward to the jellied cranberry sauce that wobbles out from the can and holds its can-shape. It adds a little brightness and tartness to the rich foods, not to mention a pop of bright color to the already-mentioned beige meal. No pumpkin pie either, but red velvet cake instead (very delicious) due to a birthday. We took along a bottle of white and divided it three-ways, just enough for one of us (who rarely drinks) to tell a personal story that may have been a bit TMI but was funny and it felt nice to laugh. As seems traditional in my PA Thanksgiving experiences, after the meal the men retired to the living room (except for the birthday boy) to watch football while the women washed the dishes and divided the leftovers. There was a little tension around the food division which surprised me but later I was told that it has a decades-long history.

We eventually were all in the living room watching football, some dozing and feeling the effects of the turkey’s tryptophan (although in just googling the word to make sure I spelled it correctly, there were articles saying that we can’t blame the post-meal haziness on it and that it would take 8 lbs. of turkey to feel tryptophan’s effect.) Maybe it was just the amount of food we ate and all the carbs…

The family’s matriarch is losing her hearing and clearness of thinking. She kept talking about hearing an orchestra upstairs and was surprised we couldn’t hear it. Around the table she had a hard time hearing what others were saying and would frequently interject a non-related story. She was at the head of the table and I was seated by her. She couldn’t hear anything I said but I actually found her very endearing. She made me miss my mother who had the same later-in-life issues that were also met with groans from her sons.

One regret of mine was that at one point I got a little reactive and snappy with the wives of the sons, which wasn’t cool. But honestly, in my defense, that was after at least four hours of being upbeat and kind and trying to stay above the fray.

On the long drive home I felt stuffed and a little uncomfortable with all the carbs and sugars and was beating myself up a little bit for being reactive. I was thinking of ways to get out of any Christmas gathering that may be planned. Less than two hours after we got home, still full, I thought it would be a good idea to have a plate of leftovers…with some red wine…Oy vey. Not too much later I was asleep.

Today I woke up a little hungover in general but actually as I write this, all the family dynamics that annoyed me yesterday seem trivial. It was nice we got together, flaws and all. I guess that’s the thing about families…there can be a lot of foibles…and forgiveness. And I’ve been thinking that instead of avoiding the next get-together, I’ll work on having some plans in place to not react. Or, maybe better yet, I’ll give myself permission to show my own flaws and though I’ll try not to react as much, I’ll forgive myself if I do a time or two.

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving Day and that you have lots to be grateful for!

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