The weeks before Thanksgiving are a very busy time for me. Some of my clients will have family in town and will need a few extra hours of my time. Some previous clients will call and want a one-time deep clean before the holidays. And of course the rearranging of schedules to accommodate me taking Thursday and, of course, Friday off. It is the only time of year I get a few extra days to clean my own house.
Aside from the usual stress of cramming sixteen family members in one house, my clients are generally happy during the holidays. Except for one, my poor little Midge. For Midge, Thanksgiving and Christmas are cripplingly depressing, and potentially dangerous if the depression digs too deep.
Midge’s only family are two daughters she hasn’t talked to in ten years and a sister out West. It seems that while Midge was trying to drown her maladies in a bottle, the young girls developed their own, to which they blame their mother for. Midge does not deny this, and the guilt she feels comes to a head around this time every year while she hopes for just one phone call or email. She learned from her sister last year that her eldest got married. Her sister was invited, Midge was not.
On Thanksgiving, while everyone is seated around the table with family, carving the turkey and trying to keep the conversation as politically correct as possible, Midge will be alone, having made a single Cornish game hen, a box of stuffing and a can of corn. If she feels up to it, she might mash a potato or two. She will jump up every time the phone rings, only to be let down by telemarketers from other countries that don’t realize what a sacred day it is in America.
I try to keep a close eye on her around this time of year. Next week, I will bring her a nice potted flowering plant and put it on the mantel so she can see it from her chair. I’ve been doing it for the past five years and she says it brings her joy, a little piece of color to ward off the darkness. I will make sure her apartment is clean and neat. Of course I will invite her to our meal, but she will decline as she always does. So I will take time out of my holiday with family to call and wish her a Happy Thanksgiving, so she can hear at least one friendly voice that day.
So when your surrounded by your loud, annoying family this Thanksgiving and you’re pleading with Uncle Johnny to at least take off the MAGA hat at dinner and playing linebacker between the kids and the dessert table, try to be thankful for them. At least you’re not having Thanksgiving for one.