Stage 5: Acceptance
“So it goes; pass the salt.”
As I sat idly using my spoon to mold my Thanksgiving-esque dinner into new and interesting globs (Jerome gave zero fucks about his current situation, and was currently eating his dinner with the blind rage of a bull in a red-cape shop), I accidentally made eye contact with the old woman across from me. This opened a door to conversation I had been keeping tightly shut. “Why aren’t you at home this Thanksgiving?” she asked. I told her things just didn’t work logistically, and that I couldn’t make it this year. She explained that their daughter and grandkids spend Christmas with them every year, but that Thanksgiving is for the in-laws. This year, they just didn’t feel like cooking. “So, we decided to come here. And we’re having a nice time, too.”
As I looked around, the depressing characters that had once caused me so much gloom were beginning to bring me some solace. The lone wolves picking at cheeseburgers and short stacks could just be shift workers, fitting in an extra meal (with a proper Thanksgiving waiting for them when they got back home), the families who couldn’t provide a turkey dinner for their kids could just be saving up for a vacation (or maybe their little weirdos just preferred to eat at Denny’s?). Besides, who made it a rule that every Thanksgiving meal has to look like a Norman Rockwell painting? Didn’t we, as Americans, have the right to celebrate the anniversary of that one time our forefathers decided to stop killing Native Americans for a day and eat dinner with them instead, any way we wanted?
I felt a newfound positivity. At least I had the luxury of being able to eat hot food at all, right? At least I had a family out there that would accept me, assuming I had adequate transportation. I was a fortunate person, despite my current situation. Altruism surged in my veins.
“Hey, would you and your husband like to join us for dinner, ma’am?” I asked the elderly woman, next to me, beaming.
“Oh,” she said, fingering the pearls around her neck, nervously, “No, not really.”