The Party

After I fell in love with you all I wanted to do was try and give you everything in your life you felt you’d missed out on. With the exception of my daughter, I had never felt that way about anyone… that drive to please and take care of someone else. I am inherently selfish. As far as my past partners, we co-existed. I didn’t really think of doing things for them on the level you inspired in me. Hence one of the reasons it didn’t work out with them. You made me want to find ways to help you enjoy life and feel totally loved and adored. 


You mentioned you had never really experienced a “fun family” Holiday celebration in your life. In your past, you hosted them, but they felt awkward and stilted. Not much love. My cynical reaction was “like, who has experienced a ‘fun family holiday’?”


In my adult life, every holiday was something to drink my way through. It was a dance in either avoiding conversations or getting stuck in them too long. I had my script of what I would say about my life, which lasted two minutes. In return was met with a monologue about the most mundane, mind numbing bag of boring shit. I would busy myself in the kitchen, serve food and drinks, or stay less than an hour because I “had to go to another engagement”. Which actually meant getting together with friends and talking about what just happened with all the freaks at home. 


Thanksgiving was always a particularly difficult one for me. Nothing in my past was definitively scarring, not that I can remember, but it was at the bottom of my list. I don’t like turkey or eating a ton of food all at once. I get why it happens, based on our revisionist history, but none of it really made sense to me. 


Until you and I redefined it. 


You told me how much you wanted us to make a home where we could celebrate our blended family. We could start our tradition, have a big party instead of making it about the Holiday. We could show our gratitude for all of the support each person gave us while we were reinventing into, Us. This would become our new life together. I heard you and wanted to give you everything you wanted and more. I wanted to make it all happen, to show you my love, and so our new way of Thanksgiving began. 


Our house was big enough to hold out of town guests. Our kitchen was spacious enough for everyone to join in prepping and drinking the night before. The family would arrive the night before and we would order in food. You and I would wake up to prep the turkey early in the morning, take a run, wake everyone up, and prep more food. Guests arrived at 11, drinking began at 11:30, dinner at 2, then we’d sit around until dark chatting and then clean up.


The next day all of us would go wine tasting, and the day after people would slowly trickle out to go home. Sunday would be our day. You would bask in how much fun you had and how you wanted to host an annual reunion so we could be together more. I agreed because I wanted you to have everything you desired. This is what you were longing for. This made you feel like you had the family you always wanted. This was what you could talk about with your friends and colleagues instead of hiding the envy you felt while listening to big tales of their family Thanksgivings. 


You told me how grateful you felt to have me as your partner. You acknowledged and thanked me for all the hard work and attention to all of our guests. I know how much it meant to you that I did all of it to please and take care of you. You said you loved me more than words could ever express. Forever. 


Needless to say, after your diagnosis, everything changed. 


That Thanksgiving, the one before you died, was a big transition. Other people stepped in to do what we once did together. Your brother’s wife replaced you in shopping with me. The night before Thanksgiving, after ordering take out, you went to bed early. The morning of, instead of you and I getting up early to do our traditional turkey prep, it was prepared by family. You didn’t get up until late morning. You sat on the couch looking so vulnerable throughout the day and went to sleep early. We did not go out for a group adventure the day after. Just sat around and talked until you had enough. 


I can’t believe I still didn’t see it, that you were dying and although I caught glimpses… I was not ready to accept that our tradition was over. 


I want to make it clear, I didn’t really enjoy the Holiday any more than any other time in the past. We could dress it up, our new tradition, but it was the same for me. I spent my time cooking, cleaning, drinking, and slipping away for breaks in my closet so I didn’t have to engage. Not a soul would ever catch on that I really only enjoyed a handful of our Thanksgiving parties. I gave our guests all the attention they needed to feel seen. By Sunday, I was exhausted, resentful, and vowed to never do another party again. But you felt so happy and that was all that mattered to me.

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