Holiday Bag Check

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.

Pizza Buffet

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!”…

Baggage Check

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?


25 thoughts on “Holiday Bag Check

    • You’re not that far away! The Boy will be camping out in the guest room 20-28 Dec, but if you and the clan want to make a road trip after that? You are very, very welcome!

  1. I absolutely LOVE that idea! Mind you, my clan would look at me like i’ve grown horns from my head AND might try and burn me at the stake as a witch, but hey? Nothing ventured, nothing gained! 😀
    As for my baggage … well, let’s just say i’ve been cleaning house. A small rucksack should carry it all … for now. 🙂

    Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays and the very best of everything in the coming year! ❤

    • With the changes in dynamic among my siblings, i suspect i could bring this up as a topic of conversation these days… when Mom was alive, i’d have never considered it. Very strange… Perhaps if you find a ‘teachable moment’ – someone at the dinner table saying “Well, things just aren’t the same…” or “Why do the holidays always suck?”, you might be able to bring it up!

      Life is busy and good, and i’m beating myself up at the gym on a very regular basis and liking how that feels… i may gain some weight back over the holidays, but i’m gonna be stronger! ❤

      All the best to you as well, dear lady!

    • i didn’t play it up big this time – just wanted to see what would happen. i believe i’ll talk it up more for the Christmas Eve version of this party and see what happens.

      Studley is doing very well! We went out to a concert last night – endurance is his demon at the moment, so we left a little after intermission. He’s walking, driving and back to work after just 4 weeks! The stamina will return, but it’ll take time…

    • i suppose another festive option would be to have a fire in the fireplace… or a flamethrower. The more i think about it, the more baggage i realize i’ve already shed. With both parents dead, and time to get myself squared away with both of them emotionally, i think i’ve cleared a lot of the gnarly stuff…

      i miss my kids, but i’m proud of them for being independent. The Boy has friends in the Army, and have started their own tradition – with him leading the cooking charge! The Girl? Has had a version of Thanksgiving in the past with some other U.S. ex-pats, but doesn’t have a lot of energy for it. As a vegetarian, she usually has to bring the macaroni and cheese…

  2. It may have taken years but it sounds to me like you’ve rid yourself of your baggage. Nice of you to allow others to unload. You’re a regular Florence Nightingale. I’m in the Buckeye State for Thanksgiving. Loving every minute of it and will be glad to be back home.

    • I’d say most of my baggage… there are always opportunities to acquire new ones. Working through the family demons has been a bit of a marathon, but I can honestly say that I’ve been delightfully surprised with our post-Mom relationships (excepting my brother). The beauty of the Thanksgiving family road trip is that it’s usually shorter than Christmas/New Year’s… not quite as much time to start to get on familial nerves! Safe travels!

  3. Love the concept. We do what my human’s spouse calls “making ones twos.” The Geezer and his Mrs. invite neighbors, friends, and just associates that are alone for the holiday. It’s not as inventive as your PIZZA BUFFET. It does have all the traditional thanksgiving food. The Geezer tends to add a little booze so some of the dishes are “different.” EG – Mexican Dressing – with lots of tequilla added. I’m afraid that the BITCH BUCKET would have to be as large as a dump truck knowing some of the folks who participate if used here.

    • “Bitch Bucket” <– Yes! I can rename it for non-holidays! Maybe build a permanent box by the door! You're a smart pup! We also had a guest doggie – Ms. Talulah, who is 11, came with her folks to hang out with Mr. Pickles. She's got a slow-growing cancer, and I figured if she was up for a roadtrip, then we could certainly deal with a four-legged guest, too! Mr. P enjoyed having a lady friend in the house – and was even respectful! That's another nice thing about senior doggies… a little less energy for pursuit of forced love!

  4. My BFF and I were Thanksgiving orphans this year. They usually have a dinner at the building where I live, and we went to that. My sister, who hates turkey and served enchiladas last Thanksgiving I was at her house, would probably go for your pizza party. The baggage bucket is a great idea for preserving mental health for the holidays.

    • Glad that you had a buddy for the group dinner! There are several organizations here that put on community dinners – and I’m always blown away by how many people volunteer! This year, they had more volunteers than potential diners – so they had to turn away volunteers! Better than turning away people looking for company on the holiday!

  5. right now it seems that we’re the baggage that’s been dropped by one of the krewe, and more’s the pity so are his siblings. we were 8, now we are 6. what to write, eh? “not my circus, not my monkeys” *sigh* xoxoxo

    • Aw shit, Savvy… That has got to be painful. I’m hoping it’s only temporary, and whatever caused them to wander off was only a blip. Your krewe has always struck me as such a beautiful family! Sending love to you all…

  6. I made my first turkey this Thanksgiving and you know what? I fucking aced it!! Was the best damn turkey i’ve ever had, even the sparse crowd at ye olde Pennsyltucky home was raving, a couple people who weren’t there but got leftovers? raving about it… who knew? It will be in book three of my memoir titled, The Evolution of a Caveman.

    • Wonderful! Back when I would do the occasional turkey… I mean ‘cook’ the occasional turkey…. I always wondered why I didn’t do it more often than holidays! It’s good eating for a week, and is pretty tasty stuff. Mine were never spectacular – I did the ‘bag’ thing to keep it from drying out too much. Glad you got to Pennsyltucky, too…

  7. No Thanksgiving here, though Black Friday arrived on our shores a few years ago, terrible thing it is. This year it turned into Black Friday Week! Fucksake! Ye yanks have a lot ta answer for.
    But I love the idea of having new people arrive at the house for food and drinks. Last Christmas our eldest daughter asked if we could take in a Texan student (a particular Texan student, not just a random Texan student) for Christmas eve and Christmas day.
    Make yerself at home says I to the lad, and he feckin did, fer two feckin weeks! Bastard.
    Just family this year.
    Love to you and yours missus. 😀

    • So very sorry that we’ve exported Black Friday. i would love to report that it’s losing steam over here, but sadly shopping is still considered a recreational sport in the states…

      You had a pesky Texan Infestation. Best way to cure that? Starve it, have a drum circle and daily (if not hourly) group hug. Texans in general hate all that touchy-feely stuff…

      Sending much love and light to you as well, good sir! Xoxoxo

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