There’s something in the air during the holidays. I can’t explain it, but it’s a palpable difference in the atmosphere that is almost magical. People seem kinder, there’s the cool crispness in the weather, and everything feels different somehow. A week ago, I heard the Wham! version of “Last Christmas” on the radio. I shamelessly rocked out with George Michael in my car, knowing that this officially signified the beginning of the holidays.
Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday ever since I can remember. There is something reaffirming about stepping back and remembering to be truly grateful for everything that I have been given in life. Eating until I am so full that it hurts to breath isn’t so bad either.
I wasn’t always as aware of it before I stopped working at Macy’s. Retail is a thankless job, and I frequently saw the ugly side of people during the holiday. A “sasshole” by nature, (as I have been painfully accurately described by my old boss) I have talked back to plenty of rude customers who get out of hand on Black Friday…and the month following that. And that’s not to say it’s all roses everywhere I go now either. I just get a reminder every now and then to stop and take it all in.
I was stressed out about Thanksgiving. I wasn’t able to celebrate with my family this year, so I worried about what a day without gorging myself on food and booze in the company of my entire family would be like. Who would be able to stand in for me and pick up the store bought pies for the entire family?
I left work on Wednesday, and everyone was discussing vast plans with family which made it easy to channel my inner Scrooge, as I would likely be sitting on my couch alone, eating leftover pie that no one ate when I brought it to the work party. OK, that’s a lie. I already ate the entire pie. So I would be pie-less and drinking alone. Like every other random weekday of my life.
Luckily one of my coworkers took pity on me, likely after witnessing my pie incident first-hand (read “Pie Problems” to bear witness to my public shaming). She invited me to eat with her family at a restaurant that was serving Thanksgiving dinner all day. I quickly took her up on it, glad to have a reason to put on pants and leave the house.
My other coworkers decided that we should all get together the night before Thanksgiving at a dive bar called the Zoo Tavern to play ping pong and hang out. I now went from being plan-less to having two days of Thanksgiving activities. Holiday Spirit-1, Inner Scrooge-0.
I drove home and it was getting dark. I had the green light, and I started to move when I saw a quick movement out of the corner of my eye. I glanced over only to watch a man dressed all in black run right in front of my car as well as two other lanes of traffic.
My initial reaction was to yell at him. Which I wish I could say I stifled in the holiday spirit. But instead I screamed, “Do you have a death wish, you dumbass?!?” Apparently I yelled it a lot louder than I thought, because the man turned around on the sidewalk and looked straight into my car. I was mortified at first, but then thought, I meant it, so he may as well have heard it, so I just nodded at him, making eye contact as if to say, “You heard me.” Holiday Spirit-1, Inner Scrooge-1.
I parked my car and ran to the bus stop, where the Seattle Freeze mentality seemed to be melting, and people showing their inner kindness. Everyone wished the bus driver a Happy Thanksgiving. I waited for my next bus, which is usually awkward silence with ten other people. A college kid had finished work, and started asking if the bus had arrived yet, and then an old lady joined our conversation.
We talked about our Thanksgiving plans, and I told them I was headed to play ping pong in Eastlake. The woman, who had to be eighty, looked at me, and said, “Oh, at Zoo Tavern?”
I laughed and told her yes. She said that she lived right behind it. When we got off at that stop, she pointed out where she lived. I worried about her openness in pointing out her house to a complete stranger, especially one that nearly killed a man with her car earlier in the day. So I returned the generosity the only way I knew how: I invited her to play ping pong and drink with us.
She said she had to get home, but thanked me. Holiday Spirit, you win again.
I had an awesome night out with my work friends, and got up the next day only to receive text messages from my family with pictures of the food that I wasn’t getting to partake in. I was sad to miss it, but glad that I was at least a part of people’s thoughts as the day went on in Indianapolis.
I drove through an apocalyptic Downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill to get to the restaurant. It was bizarre, yet amazing to see the city with no signs of life. I thought maybe this was the zombie infestation that I had been preparing for by watching so many episodes of The Walking Dead. I wasn’t sure I could handle it until after I downed my Thanksgiving meal and had a full stomach.
Overall, it was a pretty good holiday. I certainly missed my family and friends, but that is really all part of the downside to loving travel and relocating. No one is ever all in the same place at once, and until we are all reunited at a later date, I was incredibly grateful for new friends who were willing to spend the holiday with me.