November 23, 2005

The Rude Cactus Thanksgiving Special

Here in American, we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow. If we donít celebrate it, we let the terrorists win. On Thanksgiving Day, ever year, we celebrate the day the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the Wampanoag Indians came together, shared a meal, and celebrated the Fall harvest as it had been done throughout history. Today, of course, we watch a giant, inflated Snoopy float through the chilly skies over Manhattan, eat incredibly large meals and watch football teams bash the crap out of each other. While I realize the first Thanksgiving was truly a monumental event, do you ever think the Indians, by the fourth or fifth year, got a little tired of the Pilgrims? And just wanted them to go off somewhere and celebrate on their own for once?

As much as that should be a rhetorical question, it isnít.

If you havenít followed my humble little blog for a while, you might not be aware than I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 78 siblings, give or take. Itís trueÖkinda. For the past several years, my parents have been deeply involved in the immigrant community in the Washington area, specifically refugees seeking political asylum in this country to avoid torture and persecution in their homelands. The vast majority of them somehow end up considering my mother their mother. During most holidays, my parentsí house overflows with refugees. Itís wonderful. Never have I appreciated the Fourth of July as much as I have since they came into my life. Seeing things through their eyes is humbling and, quite often, heartbreaking.

This year Ė specifically this Thanksgiving Ė I feel a bit different. I, myself, have a family. Beth and I were family before Mia arrived but sheís bumped us into full-fledged family unit status. Iíd like to spend this holiday with my family Ė Beth, Mia, my parents and my in-laws. Iíd like to gather everyone together and give thanks not just for the things we have, the things we share, but for the new, bigger family weíve become. I am, in a word, selfish. I want my family to myself this year. This year, well, I guess I just don't want spectators.

Iíll go and itíll be fun. Iíll meet brothers and sisters I never knew I had. Iíll talk with people about the horrors from which theyíve fled and feel inordinately grateful for what I have. And for what Mia and my family has.

In many respects, itís a lot like that first Thanksgiving we still celebrate and emulate today. Two very different groups of people come together. They share their pasts, their stories, as best they can in whatever parts and pieces of language they can. They celebrate where theyíve come from and what they have but, more importantly, what they are today. At the end of the day, all the individual pasts are tied into a great big thread to form a common future and show that we can, at least some of us, get along.

Happy Thanksgiving. If you don't celebrate it due to geography or some minor inconvenience like that, I dare you to anyway.

Posted by Chris at November 23, 2005 04:29 PM

Oooooo! I'm the first commenter! Anyways, just wanted to say it's okay to be selfish at times, but wow, what a cool thanksgiving to have to go to! Have a happy one!

Posted by: Heather at November 23, 2005 04:50 PM

Happy T-day to you and yours. (Heather you beat me by 4 minutes!)

Posted by: Chris Price at November 23, 2005 04:55 PM

I totally understand the need and want of being selfish sometimes. And sometimes, it's just OK to be exactly that. I do, however, think your mom is amazingly special (even though I only know of her via you) and that is something to be so very proud of. Your family is the epitome of any holiday season, giving of yourselves and getting so much more in return. I wish you and yours a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.

Posted by: Tricia at November 23, 2005 04:56 PM

That first Thanksgiving?

Squanto was using the new immigrants (not that he had much choice, as he was a captive of the Massasoit) in order to escape captivity and to undermine local tribes so as to set himself up as sachem. It was as politically oriented and charged as any regular family get-together times 100. That first Thanksgiving was the beginning of the end for the First Peoples of North America.

But have a great day anyway! *wink*

Posted by: bhd at November 23, 2005 04:56 PM

Hi Chris! I came by to wish the three of you a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend-and to let you know that I am very thankful to have you in my neighborhood of friends. Relax, enjoy, and try not to let anyone in that crowd give Mia a cold!

Posted by: Vicki at November 23, 2005 04:57 PM

This year I am thankful for my blog friends like Chris and Beth and future blogger, Mia. Thanks for brightening my day each day and for making me not so ashamed to be an American! As long as there are people here like you and your family (who sound totally rad), there is hope yet!

*mwah* Happy Turkey Day,Turkeys!

Posted by: anita at November 23, 2005 05:14 PM

Happy Thanksgiving Cactus Family!

I get the whole want my family to myself thing. I experience it on and off through the years since having my own children.

But now my mom is gone, and I am the matriarch of the family. (how the hell did that happen) and make the holidays. Enjoy your Mom's Turkey Day, soon enough, too soon it will be your home that hosts these events.

Posted by: Angelia at November 23, 2005 05:19 PM

Great post. Wow... And I can see your point for wanting the fam all to yourself. :-)

Posted by: Lisa B at November 23, 2005 05:29 PM

Happy Thanksgiving Chris!!! have a great long weekend. I'll be looking forward to the monday Haiku ;)

Posted by: ava at November 23, 2005 05:53 PM

I totally understand your want of your family to yourself, but just imagine how great it will be for Mia (when she's a bit older) to see and hear all of these stories, and experience the joy these refugees have just by being free.

Posted by: A.K. at November 23, 2005 06:47 PM

Happy Thanksgiving to the Cactus/Fish Family...

Posted by: Keri at November 23, 2005 07:21 PM

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: dragonlady474 at November 23, 2005 07:34 PM

Maybe next year you can celebrate on Friday with JUST your immediate family? It is amazing what your mom does but I understand there is a time for opening your heart and home and a time for hunkering down with family to unite in all the things good and bad that have brought/kept you together over the last year.

Gobbling Good Blessings to you all.

Posted by: Michelle at November 23, 2005 09:29 PM

And to you, Cactus, Fish and the Bean. :)

You'll be amazed that you can go all the way across the globe and someone somewhere will be serving a Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. My folks found some at the sports club we belonged to when we were in Bangkok last year. Probably the most overpriced driest turkey I've ever had, but the intention was good. ;-) We were--and are still--thankful just as much.

./~ Turkey lurky doo. Turkey lurky dap. I have my turkey then I take a nap... ./~

Posted by: Oakley at November 23, 2005 11:10 PM

I am thankful that this Thanksgiving we're going out to a restaurant. I'm thankful for antibiotics and for Puffs Plus. And for my snuggly, comfy bed.

Oh yeah. My son, too. But Puffs Plus!

Posted by: Queen Of Ass at November 23, 2005 11:22 PM

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: Mayberry at November 23, 2005 11:41 PM

Happy T-Day! :-)

Posted by: Ginny at November 24, 2005 01:31 AM

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Posted by: Mary Jo at November 24, 2005 04:05 AM

From a Canadian who has already had his Thanksgiving day (when it was originally intended - hello? fall harvests don't happen in late November!) I wish you and yours and all your fabulous friends a wonderful Thanksgiving. And here is hoping the Lions and Cowboys cover today ;-) Now it is back to work - grumble grumble.

Posted by: Mike at November 24, 2005 09:02 AM

i understand the wanting to be selfish part. my dad is a minister and so every major hoiday was often shared with other members of the congregation that for some reason or another had no where else to go on Christmas or Thanksgiving or Easter or whatever big holiday we were celebrating.

And while i understood my parents feeling like they couldn't let those people spend a holiday at home alone, and i respect and admire their generosity of spirit, i so often longed for a private family celebration. When we moved to ottawa, there was a phenomenal woman in the church named beth who didn't have children and instead adopted the stragglers and the misfits. and we finally got holidays to ourselves. and i have to say i loved it. and then i missed the big celebrations and the getting to know people on a different level.

Each type of celebration has its pros and cons. enjoy yours. :)

Posted by: suze at November 24, 2005 10:38 AM

I completely understand the desire to be with your loved ones without the intrusion of outsiders...(except in my case, family often feels more like outsiders than 'strangers'). :) And yet...what could be more selfish than to rob ourselves of the gifts that those outsiders sometimes give us when we least expect it? I hope today will feel less like someone has ruined your imagined holiday tableau...and more like how lucky you are to bear witness to those people's lives. Your parents must be something else. A big Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Posted by: Marilyn at November 24, 2005 11:11 AM

Happy Thanksgiving my favorite people!
Just remember it is painful for people who don't have families like yours. For instance, my family PUT the Dis- in Disfunction! Giggle Seriously...I prefer strangers! : ) And ache for the ideal!

And your parents are walking gifts. And I know later on in your lives, you will be more like them. You are already gifts!

Posted by: Gypsy at November 24, 2005 11:48 AM

As tomorrow's my birthday, I'll take time to be thankful that I lived another year, which for me is a big deal. ;)

Posted by: Heather at November 24, 2005 02:33 PM

Be thankful for your family. It is a great gift. This is the first T-Day without my dad, but we are celebrating just the way he would've wanted it. His spirit is with us.

Posted by: ken at November 24, 2005 03:20 PM

Hi Cactus! I just started reading your blog this week thanks to a link from the Chocolate Runner. I really like this post. Your mom does an amazing thing each holiday season, yet you open your heart with honesty about how you feel about it. Thanks for sharing such a stirring post!!

Posted by: dolly at November 24, 2005 10:30 PM