Thanksgiving is a strange holiday when you break it down to its essence. If you consider the facts, it's basically a holiday with its roots tinged with genocide and basically revolves around gluttony. Two really big sins in anyone's religion. Not to mention that it also acts as the starting pistol for a shopping free-for-all which has become something of a reality show to see who can drive themselves deeper in debt. Yes, I am cynical. But I am also right. Sure, there are other aspects such as spending time with family and friends, watching the Macy's Day Parade, and volunteering for those less fortunate. But my experience with this holiday has never been a positive one. At least until last year.
Last year, my boss, who is a wonderful woman, asked me if I could work the next day, Thanksgiving, and I was a little put off. First of all, it is a national holiday, and secondly, who the hell is going to order flowers on Thanksgiving? I asked her why and she told me she had a very special delivery that day and no one else would do it. I saw the look in her eyes which was one that I had never before seen. It was a look that told me this was really important to her. I cursed the fact that she was so nice to me all these years and I begrudgingly accepted, mumbling as I left so she would feel bad at having the audacity to ask me to work. She said thank you over my babbling vitriol and told me to arrive at 6:00am, which is 2 hours before I work on a normal day. Now I was incensed at stupidly agreeing to this.
On Thanksgiving I came into the shop to see my boss, working alone, preparing almost 50 arrangements by herself. Her eyes, dark circles from handling this order all evening. I thought to myself: "What sort of jerk orders this on Thanksgiving?" She asked me to help her decorate the vases, something I've never done before, but seeing as this was Thanksgiving and no one else showed up, I didn't have a choice. I helped put the ribbons on the ceramic vases and would occasionally mutter something like "This is a great Thanksgiving" and "I can't wait to meet these assholes". She never said a thing but diligently kept on working, exhausted and silent.
Once we finished the arrangements, we loaded them into a car and drove to the Bronx where we proceeded to unload them at a homeless shelter. A woman came outside to greet us with a warm embrace and thanked my boss profusely. "She does this every year! It's nice to see someone finally helped this poor woman! It means so much to everyone that they have these on the tables. It just makes the entire day so special." To say that I wanted to crawl into a hole and die would have been like saying Florida is a normal place; a gross understatement. On the ride home neither of us spoke very much, me from abject shame and she from not wanting to start a conversation where she would have to listen to my abject shame spiral out. When we arrived back at the shop I helped her clean, again in silence, and as I left I thanked her. She looked confused. I told her that I was thankful for showing me that whatever Thanksgiving used to mean to us, can change if we choose to be generous to others. Now it's my favorite holiday.