So the major holidays are nearly upon us. For single women such as myself who won’t be able to be with family because they live thousands of miles away (and whether this is a good or bad thing can be debated at another time), it might be a time for tears, whisky, Cosmopolitans, or marathon viewings of (pick one or all): The Twilight Zone, That Girl, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Sex in the City or Law and Order.
Now while I’m a real fan of whisky, especially the Canadian variant, and have often justified and explained my single life, if only to myself, as a mix of some Marlo Thomas, a bit of Mary Tyler Moore, some Sex in the City Samantha and Charlotte, and a little Jackie Kennedy minus Jack, Ari, Maurice or many millions of dollars, I shall shed no tears this Thanksgiving or Christmas. Nor will I indulge too much in said Canadian libation.
It’s not that I won’t miss my mother and two brothers. But given the fact that they live in Arizona and I’m in the Great White North of Minnesota and my experience as a spokesperson for a big airline taught me to never travel through American airports during any holiday (as well as to never use the pillows and blankets that used to be routinely offered during flights), I’ll be making my own sort of merry this holiday season. Don’t worry, I’ll go and visit them between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when airports and planes are less full of people and their blanket and pillow germs.
Of course, I have received a few invitations to join friends and their families for Thanksgiving. The Christmas asks have yet to arrive. Now some of you might think, oh, how nice, she’s not that alone, she has friends and isn’t living in a cloistered somewhat convent crocheting doilies while six cats loll about the place amidst silver-framed portraits of past loves gone wrong or dead.
But if any of you, male or female, have ever gone alone to someone else’s family holiday gathering, you might have very much sympathy for my wish to avoid such events.
It’s not so much that such gatherings are like the sorts of whack gatherings you see in some movies. It’s that such gatherings are often even worse than what is depicted in some movies.
First there are the parties where people are just plain nasty to one another and dinner is not so much about stuffing and pumpkin pie but about how she became a fat bitch or he’s been a total bastard since the Kennedy administration and she should have divorced him back when he had enough money to pay her decent alimony. I’ve been to holiday celebrations where (pick one or several, and sometimes at the same party) someone’s uncle, grandfather, brother, father, husband, boyfriend or building superintendent hit on me. Often the offending party was beyond fragrantly drunk and more offensive than a dead dog at the state fair but much of the time they were just frat boy stupid and completely full of themselves. Such people don’t mix well with alcohol, overcooked turkey or wives and girlfriends who “just don’t understand” them and their complicated ways.
I remember one quite crowded party I went to while living in Washington, D.C. The boyfriend of an acquaintance moved in on me while I was trying to move in on some of the creamiest mashed potatoes I’ve experienced in this life. Now any guy who really wants to get through to me doesn’t get in between me and some great mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving or Christmas, especially when they come with smooth gravy that doesn’t taste of cornstarch. He damn near knocked my plate out of my hands while explaining to me, in between labored and fermented breaths, that “she’s used to me getting around at a party, because she knows I am just not made to not explore.” I remember telling my acquaintance a few days later that she really ought to either dump the guy or get him a subscription to National Geographic.
Then there are the gatherings where unattached women are pretty much put in the kitchen and asked to help out. You do end up washing pots or whatever but you also get to hear other women, either happily married younger women or bitterly married older women (or reversed) ask you why in God’s name you are still unmarried. Once an older woman, after having been assured by me that I was not one of those lesbians (not that such would be wrong in a modern world), told me that “you know, honey, men like women who don’t think too much. You think too much. And maybe don’t go around looking quite so dolled up for Thanksgiving.” I think I went home, put on more eyeliner, and read some Sartre.
So what will I end up doing this Thanksgiving? Actually, I think it will be a pretty good day. I’ll get up early and do my Pilates and weights workout while watching some of the big balloons in the Macy’s parade. I’ll make myself some creamy mashed potatoes in the style of “America’s Test Kitchen.” Of course, I’ll do email, see if anything worthwhile is going on in the worlds of Twitter and Facebook, and see what my friends on Open Salon have to say about the day. If the weather is decent, and it could be, we have had decent weather in this part of the world at this time of year, I’ll go out for a long walk along the Mississippi River after lunch. Even if it is cold and snowy, I’ll still do some hiking. Creamy mashed potatoes do require as much. I’ll talk on the phone with my mother and brothers and probably some distant friends and then I’ll see if anything decent is on television. I have two new Jackie Kennedy books to read as well. And maybe I’ll write something.
So while no Donald will come over, as was the case with That Girl Marlo Thomas, I am not expecting a maudlin holiday season. I don’t have to work in the newsroom on Christmas as Mary Tyler Moore did, even though Lou, Murray and Ted came to visit her anyway.
A toast of good Canadian whisky to everyone from this single girl this holiday season. You never know. We might just make it after all.