November 29, 2010

I Hate the Holidays

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What is the issue?

I hate the holidays. Not like, “Oh, I hate the holidays,” and then I go do it anyway. I mean it like, I do not do it. When the girl at the bookstore the day after Thanksgiving asked me, “Did you enjoy your Thanksgiving?” and stuffed my new copy of U-Turn: What If You Woke Up One Morning and Realized You Were Living the Wrong Life? into a bag, I said, “I abstained.” I put a lot of emphasis on that last word, abstained, to be clear: I do not imbibe. The girl looked at me all pained and perhaps sort of sympathetically embarrassed. Then I smiled, and took my book, and left.

I didn’t eat turkey, or stuffing, or celebrate the occasion, or anything along those lines. What I did do on Thanksgiving Day was, in the morning, I went to the store. I walked there. I went early. Even though it was already Thanksgiving, I figured if I went later, it would be insane with all those women who forgot their canned cranberries or what have you. It was a nice day out. A little cold, maybe. The store wasn’t a madhouse, but there was a long line of nervous looking people waiting to receive boxes in which there were their prepared Thanksgiving dinners. I found this sort of depressing. But who am I to judge?

I eyed some of the special Thanksgiving food items, but I didn’t buy any of them. When I was done, I went to the register, where the woman said I smelled nice, which was nice, and I told her the name of my perfume while I paid her. Then I left. Wait. Let me backtrack momentarily. On the walk to the store, it was very quiet. This was because the street was blocked off. That’s because a race was about to be coming. They call it a Turkey Trot. But it hadn’t started yet. So there was mostly just police officers standing around by barricades, and a bunch of young people setting up a stand where they would be handing people water as the runners ran past.

Only, when I walked out of the store, everything had changed. The street was a sea of people, I could see. I was at the street by the time I realized this. I turned my head to the right, and there was a river leading to this sea, and the river was made of people. There were thousands. All these people running. Right in front of me were the people at the beginning of the race. These people were very serious. As I got even closer, so they were close enough to touch, I realized they were all being very quiet. But it wasn’t silent. Because you could hear one thing and one thing only. It was the sound of their feet running. Pat-pat-pat. But multiplied into a thunder. It was eerie. I was transfixed. I stopped, and I listened to it. I thought, Oh, fuck, this is the sound of humanity. You know? This steady beating of their feet on the street. This sea of people. All this running.

It was sort of magical. I went home and continued to not celebrate Thanksgiving, but I was thankful to have had that moment. That epiphany where you realize that even if you step away from something, it will come and get you and pull you back into it. It felt like some kind of blessing. TC mark

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Susannah Breslin

Susannah Breslin is a journalist and the creator of The War Project, an independent online project featuring the …

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