My siblings and I are each writing about an unusual Thanksgiving in our past. InlandEmpireGirl's snowbound story is here and Silver Valley Girl's story of immeasurable heartbreak leading to a clearer sense of her mortal self in relation to God's mysterious designs is here.
I gave this assignment and then realized I had already completed it a year ago. If you go here, you can read about our family's infamous Gratitude is an Attitude Thanksgiving in 2001.
But, I have another unusual Thanksgiving Day to write about:
Back in 1986, I was despondent all through the fall months and into the New Year. I had a girlfriend who was living in London and she took up with another guy and I was crushed to the point of instability.
I was desperate to find ways to just feel better, to relieve my mind of the obsessive preoccupation with this loss and to somehow be able to breathe freely and unknot my stomach.
I thought a Men's Group would help.
I had some male friends at the time who also thought that we should do what we knew a lot of women were doing at the time: get together and talk about our gender.
It was an earnest undertaking. We talked well into the evening a few times about our frustrations and how we wanted to be free of roles and behaviors we felt had been ascribed to us because we were men.
We talked with passion and vented our anger.
We shared feelings.
I continued to feel despondent about my love life.
Thanksgiving neared, and three of us didn't have family around and weren't travelling, so we decided to have Thanksgiving together.
We also decided to invite any other Thanksgiving "strays" we knew to join us.
We decided, in the spirit and unwritten rules of a Men's Group, that we didn't want to have a traditional Thanksgiving. Somehow it seemed revolutionary and gender bending to us if we kept it vegetarian. As evolving, independent men, no one was going to tell us we had to eat flesh at Thanksgiving.
We also decided this Thanksgiving would football and alcohol free.
I spent the morning and early afternoon baking a barley-cheese-vegetable casserole and making a big pot of black bean soup. The others brought their dishes. Someone brought a Grape-Nut bake of some sort. We had grapes. We drank fizzy apple juice. Some one brought a dessert, probably some kind of soft tofu fake pumpkin pie.
No one was going to tell this group of evolving independent men that we had to have real pumpkin pie.
One of my students accepted my "stray" invitation and brought his mother.
She was in her late forties, a divorcee, a spiritual person, and she really liked to idea of being part of an evolving independent Men's Group having a vegetarian football-free Thanksgiving together.
I think we held hands over dinner before we ate and invoked the blessing of a non-gendered Higher Power. I think we went around the table and shared what we were thankful for, giving each other vigorous nods of approval if we used the words "expanded consciousness" or "feel more connected".
We talked and laughed and congratulated ourselves for being evolving, independent, and authentic men.
The mother liked this. She told us we were very special men, that the world would be a better place if there were more men like this.
She also kept tracing her lips with her fingers. I have no memory at all of what the mother looked like except she was slender. If I saw her on the street today, I would walk right by her as a stranger.
But, she kept tracing her lips with her fingers and her fingernails. Her lips were attractive. They must have felt soft under the touch of her fingers and fingernails.
It was weird. Her son was at the table. We were all fifteen to twenty years younger than she was. It just didn't seem to fit well with our evolving independent Men's Group vibe.
It wasn't until about a week later that Doug and I acknowledged that the mother had seemed to be sort of seducing us.
Neither one of us wanted to bring it up. We were both kind of turned on by her.
We thought such feelings and their accompanying yearnings were base, certainly below the station of evolving, independent Men's Group guys like us.