Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I just finished watching my favorite Thanksgiving special. Actually, it's the only Thanksgiving special that I know of, but I think it would be my favorite, regardless. It's the Charlie Brown special. It drives me crazy. You've got these pushy kids that invite themselves over to the Browns and then they bitch when they get served toast and popcorn. Never mind that it was the family dog that made dinner, for Christ's sake. It's the gall of someone putting you out and then complaining that what was done wasn't good enough. People seem to do this all the time. There's so little gratitude in this world where we dwell.

A few years ago, I was working with a long-term substitute teacher. She was a bit of an odd duck; she lacked social skills, but clearly wanted to be social. She just laid it out there and asked a variety of people if she could spend Thanksgiving with them. A fellow teacher with a big family that always went out for their holiday meal told her that she was welcome to join them. The sub was peeved that it wasn't going to be a homemade meal, but she went and seemed happy, at the very least, not to have spent the holiday alone.

The woman was a very sad case. She was in her late fifties and had lived all her life with her parents. They had passed away shortly before the time I worked with her. She would talk to them as if they were present, especially when things became stressful for her. This, as can be imagined, made the students think her totally insane. She had other odd habits. She frequently told kids that they were doomed to Hell, and she'd corner teachers in the lounge with long-winded stories that didn't seem to make much sense. After a lot of complaints from kids, she was let go. It was easy at the time to dismiss her as a loon and be happy that she wasn't working with us anymore, but the truth is she was screaming out for help and no one heard. Everyone ignored her because she was a nusciance and it was easier to simply push her behaviors aside. She killed herself a few months later. Thanksgiving always makes me think of her, and how sad it was that she wanted a social life, friends, simple people in her life and was brave enough to ask for it. She wasn't pleased with what she received and the day didn't seem to make her grateful. Sometimes it's not enough to be included. Sometimes I think what we want is to be wanted to join in, to have our presence valued. Being made to feel unwelcome makes the lonliness greater and the hurt of exclusion all the more profound, even as you're surrounded by people.

I don't feel like celebrating the holidays this year. My heart isn't in it. I've arranged to spend Thanksgiving alone. I've told my family I'm spending it with The Fiance's family, and told The Fiance I'm spending it with my family. I'm not feeling especially thankful for anything at the moment -- The Fiance, the few friends I have from work that haven't forsaken me, the few others that I see with any regularity. The unmeployment has worn me down. At least spending the day alone is of my choosing, and I still find the odd woman a source of pity and not inspiration.