The day before Thanksgiving, I had an invitation to a party. I wanted to go, I really did. But because I had so little time on Thanksgiving Day to make my pumpkin soup appetizer and my double chocolate pecan pie, I had to do them the night before. I got stressed out about the crust on the pie. It shouldn’t have made me freak out, but I did when I realized I had to redo the crust or else I wouldn’t be able to put the filling in. My inherent need for perfectionism made me lose it. I cried. Mom tried to console me, said she would bake the pie and make the soup while I should go to the party. But I knew she had so much cooking and cleaning to do for the event, and I should help her.

I didn’t finish the soup and pie until 9:00. If I had gone to the party, I might have had an hour to socialize before I had to leave for work, and that wasn’t going to work. I hadn’t seen the people I knew would be at the party for months, and I would want to be there for longer than an hour. So I didn’t go, and I drove to work with a lonely heart.

I would say Thanksgiving was nice. Not the best, but all right. Mom was cleaning when I got home that morning, I ate, crawled into bed, and I didn’t wake up again until a little after 2:00 when I got a text. I tried to go back to sleep, but then I started having hunger pangs. I rolled out of bed. Grandma and Grandpa had arrived,, and they were all very apologetic because they thought they were being loud. I had to explain, “No, it’s not that. I’m just hungry.” Luckily for me, they were snacking. I had some sweet pickles, black olives, crackers, and cheese. Then, since I figured I wasn’t going back to sleep any time soon, I took my shower. After that, I hung around for a bit.

We ate dinner around 5:30 – curried pumpkin soup, stuffing, turkey breast, carrots and parsnips, and mashed potatoes that Mom made (though I hate to tell her that mine are much better and don’t have to have all the onions, bacon, and garlic that she threw into hers). Everything was going well until the first words out of my grandpa’s mouth as soon as the blessing finished was not, “Please pass the turkey,” but rather, “I bet Sam is glad she has a job.”

I have no doubt in my mind my mother briefed my grandparents on what has been going on. I hear her whispering sometimes about me to them when they visit. I figured that, in their hours before my awakening, they heard the truth about how I feel about my job, and how I have not been myself at all. That remark really put a sour taste in my mouth. I just simply replied, “No, I’m not thankful for my job. I’d rather be spending time with my family and friends.” My mouth was shut for the remainder of dinner, for fear that if I opened it for even the slightest response, I’d bust and the well of emotions would come out again. I only ate single helpings of everything but the cranberry relish, because even though I like cranberries, I just really didn’t feel like having it. I excused myself from the table early because I was feeling tired, and I crawled back into bed for another hour. A call from my dad wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving awoke me. I just wish I could have a conversation bearing happy or good news, rather than the, “I’ve got work. There’s nothing else going on in my life right now because I have no life.” answer I seem to give every time we talk anymore.

We finished the evening with a viewing of Up, and even though I like the movie, it was difficult to keep my composure while watching it. The opening gets me every time.

Friday was worse. I came home after my nine-hour shift (that was actually a little longer because my relief came in ten minutes late. Apparently being punctual doesn’t extend to all employees). My mom had made me a breakfast sandwich, which I ate while crying. I went to bed shortly afterward. I woke up and started to cry, so I ducked into the shower to disguise it.

Mom and I had already put the Christmas tree up, but she got the ornaments and other decorations out while I was sleeping.  We ordered pizza and decked the halls while waiting for the delivery guy. Our tree looks lovely.

Before we ate dinner, Mom told me she had a surprise for me. I was led out to the outside of our house, where Christmas lights lined the roof of our house. For the record, I cannot remember the last time we had Christmas lights on our house. My dad and mom did it at least once when they were married, but that was over seventeen years ago. Mom and Paul never decorated the two houses we lived in, and we’ve been in this house for seven years and never put lights on it. We’ve always been so busy, or Mom knows how much work it is to put them up there. I’ve looked at other decorated houses with envy for years, and now, even though it is quite simple, I have Christmas lights on my house.

“We just wanted to make you happy, baby,” my mom said. It did. I mean, I was incredibly grateful for the time and thought that my mom and grandparents put into decorating our house. That was the problem, though. It just made me want to stay at home with them even more.

We ate dinner and watched Tangled, and everything was good. But after the movie ended, Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa played a game of Rummikub while I had an hour before I had to leave for work. I was going to have a slice of my chocolate pecan pie, but after I got the plate and the pie out, I started crying. I lost my appetite and put them back. I just went ahead and put my uniform on, and tried not to say anything.

My mom stopped me by the door before I was to go. She asked if I was okay, and I lost it. I couldn’t stop sobbing. She pulled me close to her and let me cry. For the first time in a long time, she didn’t yell at me or make me feel like a failure. I barely made it out of the house, for I was overcome with so much emotion and pain.

I don’t even know how I made it to work because my eyes were so blurry with tears. There was a moment when I looked up and realized, with a little confusion, that I was already at my exit and hadn’t noticed how close I was to it. When I thought I had cried so much that nothing else would come out, there were fresh wet spots on my green scarf. If the police had pulled me over, they would have thought someone had died.

I don’t know how I made it through work, either. Thankfully, it was a night I was able to leave early.

My Saturday was relatively good. I came home early, ate breakfast, and crawled into bed. Mom woke me up around 11:30, which mean I got about five hours of sleep. I felt pretty good. I got ready and we were out the door and down at the shopping center by 1:00. We ate at McAllister’s Deli, and then we walked around and went into stores. Mom and Grandma wanted to hit nearly every women’s clothing store. Grandpa stood outside. I felt bad for the guy.

I did buy something, but it was technically Mom’s purchase before I decided I’d pay for it so she didn’t have to put it on her credit card. It has gone from an immediate gratification purchase to being her birthday present. However, I didn’t buy anything for myself, nor did anyone buy anything for me. In the stores, Mom and Grandma would say, “Isn’t that nice? What do you think about this?” and I had to tell the truth: “It’s nice, I like it, but I can’t justify having it. I would have no place to wear it to, or I might wear it once.” I know this job isn’t permanent, that I’m not going to work here forever, but it feels like I will. When I have two pairs of work pants (which are technically my two pairs of nice khaki pants that are getting stains on them because my manager still hasn’t ordered my work pants) and three shirts, why bother? I spent so much money last year on professional clothes to use for teaching or a nice little office job, and I hardly wear any of it. I looked at so many nice items while shopping, but I knew that it would all be money wasted.

I tried to find a few gifts to complete my Christmas shopping list, but I didn’t succeed at that, either. For the most part, though, the gifts I need to make or buy are done. Why yes, I am an overachiever.

After walking around in the open air (and in the air of the stores), we went to Orange Leaf. Grandma and Grandpa had never heard of it, and since a new store opened in Noblesville a few weeks ago, we went. It was good, as always. Then we came home and I took a two-hour nap, which refreshed me just enough. We had little snacks and watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I had been wanting to watch for a few days. The DVD skipped a little, but it still worked, and it was a nice night.

Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa played a game while I did some knitting. I had some coffee and a slice of my double chocolate pecan pie before I had to get into my uniform and go to work. Everything, for the most part, went well. I was only a little upset when I had to leave, and then when I got to work I sat in the parking lot and cried a little bit, but I pulled myself together and came in. It was a fairly uneventful night, thank goodness. I did cry a little, though I think I hid it well from my co-worker.

All in all, if it hadn’t been for my job and all the crying, it would have been such a wonderful Thanksgiving…

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