I am from Richmond, Virginia (RVA if you're nasty), but the majority of my family is not. My mother's side of the family hails from the small town of Rocky Mount, VA where the sweet tea and unending love for Bill O'Reilly is abundant. I couldn't even find a map that has the Rocky Mount on it, so you'll have to trust me when I say it's here-ish:
My grandmother (85!) and ancient aunt (94!) both reside in Rocky Mount, so for holidays the family makes the trek to go visit. I hate this place. I mean, I hate it with every microcell in my body. I'm sure that if I could look at the place objectively, I would see that it's a lovely small town populated by equally lovely people, but when I visit Rocky Mount all I see are my relatives who are old, frail shells of their former selves. Before she lived in a nursing home, my aunt used to harvest produce from the family farm and give relatives homemade canned preserves for Christmas. Today she sits in a hospital bed all day and constantly asks when her husband (whose been dead for 8 years now) is coming back home. When I visit Rocky Mount, it's a constant reminder that I can't change these people's situations, no matter how much I want to and that I will never ever be able to alter the fact that growing old and slowly losing all of your bodily functions frankly is "a load of horse shit" as my father once said.
This Thanksgiving I spent a good portion of my time hanging out with my ancient aunt who has basically lost four out of five of her senses and asked me last week if I had any idea how much more comfortable it is to urinate in your bed rather than to go to the restroom. In my mind, Thanksgiving, or at least part of Thanksgiving, should be spent in a nursing home. Nothing - let me repeat that, NOTHING - will make you more thankful for being alive than spending time with an incontinent old woman. In fact, nothing will make you want to blast the Sex Pistols and dance ferociously and make love to the first good looking stranger that walks by more than spending time in a home specifically designed for people who are anxiously hoping for a quiet death.
After wiping rectums (plural! fantastic!), plucking facial whiskers, and flushing crusty eyes for four days, I came home last Saturday, took the hottest luxury bath* of my life, put on a skirt that was once deemed "just a smidge inappropriate" by a manager at Bath and Body Works, and went to a party where the vanilla rum and double dutch-themed dancing flowed like water. I spent the night laughing with these people:
and playing the Nintendo Wii (Awesometown!) while semi-intoxicated and doing many of the things one is supposed to do before you hit the nursing home days. It's been a long time since I felt that grateful to be alive. I hope your Thanksgiving was equally fantastic.