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It’s complicated

Posted by Jeremie Bateman // November 29th 2013 // Featured Young Adults, Stories and Voices, Thanksgivukkah // no comments

Thanksgivukkah_Family-CalcIt feels like a math equation that I just can’t solve:

your family’s traditions

+ my family’s traditions

our budget

x are we adults yet

= ???


On Monday, my mom texted me about pie, or rather, she group texted me and my two brothers. She was making a list of the types of pie being considered, which sparked a fair bit of conversation as the list was substantial. Thanksgiving is one of those big deal holidays in my family. It is a huge gathering that spans multiple days with food, football, family and always some lively… well, let’s call them debates. It is exhausting. And I love it. But as I relayed the text messages to my husband (his pie preferences matter too, after all), I started thinking about how my feelings about Thanksgiving have grown complicated.

The first two years that we dated, my then-boyfriend and I went our separate ways at Thanksgiving and Christmas. He to his parents and me to mine. Then for the two years after that, we spent time with both families on both occasions. Neither of us was willing to not see our families. I wanted my Thanksgiving, out till midnight with the three turkeys, four kinds of potatoes, three stuffings and seven types of pie, a horde of small cousins and Thanksgiving Part Two on Friday. And he wanted his: small, low-key, with card games, some football and an early night. But the year we spent time bouncing through three different states (besides ours) from house to house to make sure we spent some time with everyone, we decided that we had to change something.

We alternate holidays now. His family on Thanksgiving, mine on Christmas, then mine on Thanksgiving and his on Christmas. In a two year cycle, everyone gets us once for each holiday. Everyone says they’re on board, but I feel just a little sad when it’s not my family’s turn. Everyone says how much they miss me when I call and I’m keenly aware that I’m the only one not there. My brothers still live very near (or with) my parents, which often means that even when it’s not a holiday, I can feel out of the loop, disconnected, missing. I’ve been thinking about what it would look like to not travel either place for Thanksgiving. To start our own tradition at our home. But it doesn’t quite feel like it’s time yet. It feels easier to justify not being with my family if we’re with his. But to stay home? I can’t yet imagine what that would be like. After all, if no one gets Thanksgiving because we stayed in Massachusetts, who gets Christmas?

It’s funny the things that bring the messiness of young adulthood transitions into focus. I certainly didn’t think it would be my mother’s text message about pie. But when I really think about it, all of my back and forth about whose Thanksgiving traditions and which holiday where is really a small part of much larger questions that I find myself facing: who am I? How do I want to be in the world? What are the values that are important to me?

I think this weekend I’ll spend some time considering these questions further. Over a slice of pumpkin pie.

About the Author

Jeremie Bateman is the Leadership Development Associate in the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at the UUA. He can be reached at jbateman@uua.org.
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