Thanksgiving in your twenties feels odd. There are important people – the most important people – missing, and new strange people at the table to replace them. Not bad strange, just new strange. You want to like them, and you want to make them feel comfortable with your family, but the irrational part of you sees this as betrayal. And running this through your brain over and over again is exhausting.
You travel back home but you’re staying with relatives or in a hotel because your childhood home isn’t yours anymore. The whole trip is decidedly uncanny – both so familiar and unfamiliar at the exact same time. And parsing out the bifurcation of this is, again, exhausting.
You manage to eke out an afternoon with your remaining childhood friends while you’re in town, and you reminisce about the block, or homecoming, or that really bizarre field trip.
You laugh at how completely nuts you were then. It’s fun and it’s nice and it’s surprisingly emotional, because you understand that you’ll never be that carefree again.
Thanksgiving in your twenties is like realizing you’re Holden Caulfield looking up at the rye cliff from below. You’ve made the plunge into adulthood, and it’s impossible to jump back up to how things were when you were little. Everything has changed and feels haunted by its difference. Though you understand that things and places and people are allowed to change — despite the fact that you’ve left them all behind years ago — a small part of you sort of hopes that this turns out to be untrue.
So you do your best to lean into the changes. You are grateful for the new, perfect babies at the table who alleviate a solid chunk of the tension and anxiety you feel. You are grateful for your family, past and present. You are grateful for both the blissful childhood that you had and for your new twenty-something life.
You remember the pride you take in your new, adult-seeming responsibilities. You remember how much you actually really like your life now. You try to stop thinking — because it’s totally freaking exhausting. So you take a big, yoga breath. You count down from four. You get out of your head. You smile.
And then you eat everything.