For the past several years, i’ve hosted an open house on the fourth Thursday of November – known to many as “Thanksgiving”, i just call it “Thursday”.
In the U.S., this day traditionally marks the start of the holiday season – a season fraught with emotional peril, along with joy and celebration. Pinned to the holidays are memories – good and bad. As adults, each year adds another layer of memories, and sometimes the holidays can be a dark and swirly place emotionally.
When my children were young, this is the one holiday of the year we claimed as our own – NO TRAVEL! Asking my ex-husband how he wanted to spend the day? “Pizza and football”. Asking the kids, i got “Let’s make our own pizza!” For me? It was a simple “stay home in my damn pajamas with my family.” Combining these elements, we began the pizza tradition.
Through the years, i invited others – the single folks from work unable to get home for the holiday. Those who had family in town, but wanted an excuse to stay away. Or those with nowhere else to go. When i moved into my new place eight years ago, this continued… and grew.
It’s non-traditional, for sure. A make-your-own pizza buffet. Yes, i DO invite people over and make them fix their own food! Part of the process of reclaiming the holiday, i suppose. The practical side is that it accommodates the drop-in nature of the party, and accounts for those who already ate a large meal, and just want to snack and drink.
This year, around 30-35 people came and went over the course of the evening. i’ve got a trained collection of Thursday Veterans who know to bring people – and i have met some wonderful human beings at my own party as a result.
Mary came this year, and brought her dog, because dogs are also welcome here. She retired a year ago, and lost her mother shortly afterwards. This is the first year without her Mom and she was dreading being home alone. Her friend, Rachel – a “Thursday” veteran – invited her, explaining “I think I know exactly what you need! Come with us!”
i added something new this year – the “Holiday Baggage Check” stand at the door. Inviting attendees to drop a claim check in the can – and feel free to leave it behind. “I don’t really like my family…”, “I was never good enough for my father…”, “Despise green bean casserole!”…
For me? The baggage has evolved over time. “I don’t want to go to a restaurant on Thanksgiving!” – when Mom finally gave up the traditional meal. “It would be really nice to stay home on a holiday!” during the years before my family time-shifted the meal to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Looking through the few bits of baggage left this year… “The ex…”, “Overwhelmed with work – added family stress” and “I miss my mother…”
Pretty sure i’ll keep this as part of the Christmas Eve party. What’s your baggage?