Imperfect Thanksgivings and other Joys

Riding on the train with my son and daughter-in-law the other day, we began trading Terrible Thanksgiving Stories. She said this! I did that! We shared gossip, hurts, horrible and delicious secrets about our imperfect Thanksgivings. Through it all, we laughed and listened. And it reminded me that part of why I love family so much is because we are all so imperfect. We are crazy, and passionate, and I love it. Love them all.

Embracing Thanksgiving Imperfection

For the past year I’ve been working on a novel about a family that is turbulent, to say the least. Even the family dog gets involved in the arguments. They are all trying so hard for perfection, but the harder they try to achieve it, the further away it moves. It’s made me think about my own perfection obsessions. One of the great things about writing is that it teaches you a lot about yourself.

So this Thanksgiving I’ve decided to embrace the imperfections. I will overbake the pies, which I always do because I’m convinced they’re never done. I will undoubtedly say something offensive to someone. Possibly through this blog. I will certainly get mad at my husband over something, probably because he will be working on his phone.

Sadness, too

I’ll be sad, because this will be the last Thanksgiving at my uncle’s house. I’ve been going there almost all the Thanksgivings of my life. I’ll be slightly forlorn because this is the first Thanksgiving when none of my kids will be home (though they will all text and call and see me soon.) I will see my fabulous nieces and little grand-nephew and I will eat too much. Then I’ll get exhausted and drive a long way home. And I will love every minute of my imperfect Thanksgiving. At least in retrospect.

So from me and my trees and my family, I wish all of you, dear friends, an imperfect Thanksgiving. And many more! Do you have any Thanksgiving stories to share? Join the conversation at Facebook and Twitter.

Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove mystery series. Her stories have been published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. The MWA anthology, Crime Hits Home, in which she has a story, just won an Anthony Award. She teaches novel-writing at Gotham Writers and is on the staff of the New York Write to Pitch Conference.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    I liked this holiday up until my mid-twenties because day off and lots of food. Then I grew to genuinely hate it to the point that I would get very low the week of and stay cranky till past Christmas, both for the same reason–my husband always had to work and it was very sad and nothing made it better. After a while I began working in e-commerce and then I also had to either work or be on call, with a little kid in tow. Now that we’re all home together, I’m growing to love it again. There might come a time when I think back on the imperfect years with levity, but I’m not there yet. I think one of the circles of hell is full of people alone on a holiday when everyone else is with their families and all the advertising and all the movies are rubbing it in.

    That said, I fully intend to have a warm, cozy and delicious Thanksgiving tomorrow with the people I love the most, and I hope the same for all of you.

  2. Happy thanksgiving to all.

    I tend to pretend holidays don’t exist. But I’ve always liked Thanksgiving. When I was young and my mother and aunt were cooking, I just had to show up and eat. When I got older and was responsible for the meal I had some anxiety about cooking the perfect turkey, getting everything cooked and hot and on the table at the same time, etc. but I still enjoyed it. The pressure is off now that it’s just me and Sherry. We’ll have a simple turkey dinner tomorrow and a relaxing day. If I’m not too tired, I might even write.

  3. With a son who’s a chef, food has always been the center for us. My husband likes to cook, too, which is why my kitchen has two ranges with two ovens and the three of us crowd in there cooking for our small family. Yes, sometimes the results are imperfect, that one ingredient that is in every dish we make is love, lots of love for our family.

    Wishing you all a perfectly imperfect Thanksgiving~

  4. What a lovely essay. Perfectionism kills the joy, a lesson I learned after gaining custody of my three stepsons and our family grew almost overnight to six sons! Laugh, ask forgiveness and accept the imperfections because in the long run all that matters is the love. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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