I love Thanksgiving. I know I’m supposed to appreciate it for the thankful part, for the gathering of family and friends, for basking in the glow of both of these. But I’m into it for the food, the glorious overload of starch and animal protein that is the square root of my family’s T-day menu: turkey, of course, skin browned golden and infused with smokiness from a plaster of bacon strips; gravy made from pan drippings and thickened just so (no lumps!); fluffy, buttery, parsley sprinkled mashed spuds; bread stuffing with bits of celery and turkey sausage, moistened by turkey juices. And then there’s the green salad, served as a dutiful, trite acknowledgment of the vegetable food group, a nod to what know our menu should be more inclusive of. But really we regard the salad as a mere palate cleanser preceding the grand finale: deeply nutmegged and highly cinnamoned apple pie à la mode.

Gluttony more than football or chit-chat drives our Thanksgiving afternoon. Actually that’s not fair or a general truth. That’s my truth. I roll the family into my pig sty, because my brassy attitude commingles with guilt. It’s not fun, really, being the only piggy among a pack of proper lambs, so I make up partners in crime.

If I shifted my eyes away from the trough, I’d probably see that my parents are more and more grateful with every passing year that they have their kids once again in their home. I find it hard to face their feelings, though, a sign that some leftovers from Thanksgivings past remain undigested.

There’s that rut in the road, and there’s a small but sharp rebellion against scripted gratitude. I strive to look at my life from the vantage point of gratitude most of the time, not just at the behest of a holiday. Which is not to say that I object to the holiday or its intentions. Its intentions are good. I get why we need a slot on the calendar that forces us to swap the day-to-day M.O. for one more thoughtful and graceful as well as thankful.

Holidays — like any big event that takes outside of our norm — bring all sorts of things to the surface. For me, Thanksgiving surfaces the fact that I’m not a stellar team player. Always an independent soul, I’ve worked hard, hard, hard to reach a temperature and inner seasoning that lets my individuality taste nice as pie. So, this Thursday, although my public face will say the right things because that’s what the people I love want to hear, my private face will be unabashedly plate forward, buzzed with the abundant yum before me.

Part of me says I should be more repentant about my attitude. The other part says fuck that, go on and enjoy the day as you do, there are millions out there who don’t have lives in which such petty moral debates are relevant because they’re busy trying to survive, so stop blathering like a self-conscious, pain-in-the-ass joy thief — for fuck’s sake. Ok.

Melissa, 38, Atlanta, USA

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