There, I said it. So deal with it.
Thanksgiving was a day I dreaded as a child. My family included some very serious drinkers, and Thanksgiving was their day to cut loose. I remember my uncle's barbed tongue (he would pass away from alcoholism at age 52), other relatives yelling or sobbing or passing out with their faces in their lemon meringue pie.
It's too bad, because my grandmother was a fantastic cook and my grandfather carved a turkey with skill and aplomb. It could have been a very nice day.
But every year it was the same thing: line up in front of your great-grandmother, kiss her, and get a dollar (you can't make this stuff up); play with your cousins without getting killed; and then the Rheingold came out and the adults transformed in front of your very eyes from the people you thought you knew into red-faced, loud, obnoxious strangers.
I remember those long drives home, with my parents sitting stunned in the front seat and my sisters and me sitting in the back seat, in solemn silence, wondering what had just happened.
So Thanksgiving is not a day that calls to mind cheery memories.
It reminds me of Johnny Carson's line from many years ago: Thanksgiving is the one day in the year that families get together and thank God that they only have to get together one day in the year.
Things are different today. I have a beautiful wife and four awesome kids. I used up my drink tickets by age 32, so they have never seen me drink alcohol.
Thanksgiving with my Chinese in-laws, in fact, is a remarkably sober affair. For years, before I got used to it, I marveled at them: How could people sit relatively quietly, converse respectfully, eat without gluttony, and neither get drunk nor pass out?
Clearly they were immigrants who didn't understand the true spirit of the day.
So that's always entertaining.
This is not to say that I'm not grateful. I am awesomely grateful for the life I lead today: sobriety; a relationship with God; the aforementioned beautiful wife and four awesome children; deep friendships with my sisters, who also remember those wacked-out Thanksgivings of yore; countless wonderful friends; a successful business in a field I love; and the benefits of a living in a free (at least so far) society.
I just don't need a calendar to remind me to be grateful.
For years, my innards clicked like a Geiger counter on Thanksgiving morning. Just too uncomfortable. Too many awkward memories. Today, it's better. I no longer dread the day.
The thing is, I can't be the only person out there who doesn't look with fondness on the fourth Thursday in November. Surely others, like me, saw their families turn into quagmires on the so-called happiest day of the year.
Or they have no one with whom to celebrate, and their loneliness is deeply painful.
So if you're one of the people for whom Thanksgiving was as much dreaded as observed, take heart. You're not alone. And now you and I have the opportunity to create happy memories with the people we've chosen to be with.
But I won't lie. If they took the holiday off the calendar altogether, you know what I'd be?