As most of you are aware, yesterday was Thanksgiving. But only in America. Which is exactly why I had to talk to my family on the phone while they celebrated, and I rode a ferry from Naples to Ischia.
As I spoke with various family members, I reminded them that if I were there, we would be drinking prosecco with our stolen, pre-meal bites of fried turkey. I would have been in the kitchen for a week with mom planning, grocery shopping, and messing up the place. If I were there, I would have joined my dad and uncle briefly in the backyard while they hovered over gallons of boiling peanut oil, excited as 10 year-old boys. If I were there, I would have been hugging my niece and nephew and touching my sister's pregnant belly. I would have eaten like a pig, then retired to an available horizontal space to watch a movie with everybody.
My aunt reminded me that if I were there, I would be going shopping the next day with them. She reminded me that I had written an email exactly one year ago about this female ritual, and since I haven't written in a week, I'll share it with you.
November 25, 2005
I was suckered into this by the women in my family.
I have successfully avoided the the pleas with keeping the "day-after-Thanksgiving" tradition for roughly 10 years. Every year my aunt says to me, "But we always go shopping the day after Thanksgiving." It's just that we, usually does not include me. I cannot be subject to the hoards of wild-eyed women who have been to the 5-o-clock "door buster" sales at Wal-Mart and Target--they have usually stopped only to refuel with some caffeinated beverage because CHRISTMAS MUST BE BOUGHT! I always picture it like a marathon, as the shoppers whiz by laden with bags, someone is there holding out a diet coke which is quickly grabbed, slammed, empty cup falling to the ground in slow motion as the theme song from "Chariots of Fire" plays in the background.
I remember the good ol' days when this day was fun. We (Mom, aunts, sister, female cousins) would pile into the minivan at dawn and head to Houston for a fun-filled shopping day. There were people, but it was more like a Saturday at the mall than a crowded hurricane shelter. I would start complaining of mortal hunger around 10:30 and we would go to some restaurant around noon (not surprisingly, my favorite part). My mom would grow weary of my constant badgering. I wanted everything, like a good nine-year-old should, and she refused. Bless her heart. Yes, these were the days before this Friday after Thanksgiving had the name "Black Friday." After 9 solid hours of shopping, I would get bored, tired, hungry again, and would be ready to go home.
Now it's different. It has turned into a frenzy of epic proportions. One must arrive at 5 in the morning to get the sales. People are camped out in line at the mall entrance waiting to be first. Mothers, daughters, and aunts all starting new traditions.
Not me, no sir-ee.
Maybe just this one time. I have succumbed to the voices speaking to my ego and need to be loved, "Please come Tracie. We want you to be there! Our day is brighter whenever you are near!" Well, I made up that last one, but it'll get me through the day. Besides, I love my womenfolk. I miss them when I'm across the world. Anyway, what's wrong with a little sacrifice, right? I don't even go to the mall on any old Saturday because it's too crowded, but I will today. Hopefully, we will all survive, heavy with bags, diet coke on our faces, and happy to be together.
That was last year, and I was in Texas all of November and December. I won't be so fortunate this year, but if I were, I would be right there with them, enjoying every moment.