Last Thanksgiving I wrote a post in which I described some of the nontraditional ways I've celebrated the holiday in years past, and I concluded with the statement that one of the best things about the holidays is family--and one of the best things about family is that it's not limited to the people one is actually related to.
I still believe that, but this year I'd like to make a corollary statement: one of the best things about holidays is that they aren't limited to the days the calendar recognizes as such.
Because this Thanksgiving, my celebration will consist of some of this and some of that:
I'm staying home. I'll be grading, writing rec letters, finishing up my fellowship proposals, and watching a movie or two. I'm looking forward to it.
This plan, however, has not gone over well with most of the people to whom I've announced it, who have kindly but rather anxiously offered alternatives: I should join them and their extended families for dinner! I should call Colleague X, whose kids are all grown and who'd love to have me over! I should go to Y City and see some friends! It's been surprisingly hard to convince people that this is the way I'm choosing to spend the holiday, and that doing so does not indicate that I'm sad and friendless and lacking in options.
If anything, I have too many friends to keep up with. Even when I'm in town I'm usually out three or four nights a week for dinners or drinks, and this past month has been busier and more delightful--but also more frantic--than most, featuring a big blogger get-together over Indian food in Conference City; a long football-game weekend surrounded by college friends; and just last night an amazing Greek dinner over at a friend's house that went until nearly midnight. Next weekend I'll be in NYC, where I'll again be ensconced among friends and drinks and conversations that stretch well into the night.
In other words, I have feast days and celebrations all the time, whenever I get together with my friends and family. Thanksgiving--or at least this Thanksgiving--is just an opportunity to relax, recharge, and prepare for the next holiday.