Thanksgiving is a big day for my family. As secular Jews, we don’t really have many other options for gathering the troops around the dining room table, and we have fewer holiday traditions. But every November, without fail, a dozen of us circle around my parents’ table for pigs in blankets, carved up turkey and seven types of pulverized potatoes. Before anyone can eat, my father raises a glass and toasts to whatever we’re thankful for this year. One by one, around the table, we give our thanks. Friends and family are common topics. Yawn. By the time we’re seated, we’ve all had plenty to drink, so I try to get really creative with my thanks so the dinner conversation is amusing. Past topics include socialized health care, soft contact lenses and the birth control pill .
This year, I will not be creative. In fact, I will probably make up my thanks ahead of time so I don’t say anything stupid. I will probably say something boring about my (admittedly adorable) family.
This is my first Thanksgiving in a serious relationship, and my first with my boyfriend at the table. And although I am thankful for many things—a fulfilling job, a caring family and amazing friends—it will be hard to sit at that dinner table and not give proper thanks to him.
If it were more appropriate—and my parents not so uncomfortable hearing the details of their kids’ relationships—I would thank him for so many things that he’s done for me this year.
I would thank him for pursuing a relationship with my family, no matter how awkward the conversation and uneasy the circumstances. He is the first one to suggest a weekend visit to my parents or an evening with my grandma. He remembers every extended family member’s name, and is probably more excited than I am to go upstate for Thanksgiving and hang out with the whole group.
I would thank him for picking me up off the floor when I’ve had too much to drink. When we first started dating, nearly a year ago, he had no idea that my favorite place to be drunk was on the ground. I guess I didn’t realize it either. But when I’ve had too much, I tend to slide off the furniture and curl up in the fetal position on our hardwood floors. My boyfriend will patiently put me back in bed, then leave the room briefly to retrieve me a cup of water. Of course, in the thirty seconds he is gone I slide off the mattress and bang up my knees. He learned to move me to the center of the bed so I can’t squirm off so quickly.
I would thank my boyfriend for always keeping a bottle of good scotch in the house.
I would thank him for being so supportive of my career. I just started my third job in six months, and my boyfriend was the first person in line to congratulate me for my courage to never settle for a position that didn’t challenge me. As much as I throw myself through changes, I cope with the process dramatically. He is always there for me to applaud my decisions and encourage me to expect more from myself. Now my income (barely) exceeds his own, and he couldn’t be prouder of my negotiating skills.
I would thank my boyfriend for indulging my obsession with puppies. Even though I’m smart enough to know I’m too irresponsible to own one, I point out the cute ones on the street, send him cloying videos and beg him for a baby labradoodle. I am insufferably repetitive. He just smiles.
I would like to thank my boyfriend for picking up after me. Until I moved in with someone, I had no idea I was such a slob. Apparently, I have a strong distaste for vacuuming, mopping and using a sponge. And laundry. And dusting. But my boyfriend can’t even make an edible tuna fish sandwich, while I have an obsession with the Barefoot Contessa. So we decided I would do all of the cooking and he would do all of the cleaning. Which turned out to be a pretty sweet deal for both of us—I’ve never lived in a cleaner apartment, and he’s never eaten so well.
I would thank my boyfriend for constant back rubs, scalp scratches and foot massages.
I would thank him for taking care of me when I’m sick. And I’m sick all the time. Even a little cat-induced allergy attack will send me into a weekend bed-ridden mess of snot and self-pity. I don’t get sick like an adult. I turn into a needy little kid who wants constant attention, limitless tea and a tray of soup and fruit juice in bed. My boyfriend is sweet enough to cater to my sniffles and still tell me I look cute when my face is puffy and my hair hasn’t been washed in three days.
But I would especially thank my boyfriend for allowing me to write about our relationship in this pseudonymous column. Not only does he read them happily (he often points at the text and says, “That’s so true! I do say that!”), but he always offers me ideas and topics. He is my best and most honest sounding board.
This Thanksgiving, you don’t have to tell the whole table what you’re thankful for… but remember to thank whoever puts up with your nonsense, rubs your back, and buys the scotch.
On second thought, maybe I’ll just thank the birth control pill again.