Mostly I'm thinking about things like Presidents day, which is Washington's Birthday (observed) and Lincoln's birthday (observed). It's that "observed" part that starts me thinking... clearly the commemoration is more important than the actual day. But it gets kind of bizarre when it carries over to other types of holidays or celebrations - say things like Solstice observances, or rites of the full moon. I've attended rituals that were essentially 'solstice observed', and I can't quite decide how I feel about it. I suppose you can take it as a sign of paganism "maturing" under the old 'all culture is a progressive process' model - which while I find major flaws in the idea that everything is evolving toward an ultimate end point, it's a useful theoretical schema because it makes note of definite, observable cycles in human behavior, cycles I think that are worth examining outside of the framework of directed-to-an-endpoint progression. I wonder why I find "solstice observed" stranger than "birthday observed" since they both commemorate space-time events. Maybe because the solstice actually occurs every year, but what is being celebrated on a birthday is really the anniversary of the birth/event. Hmm.
It isn't that I'm not thankful for things, because I am. There are far worse places to be than where I am in my life - I've even been some of them. I'm getting all my basic Maslow-ian needs met with a minimum of fuss. Even with the occasional post-hernia-surgery twinge of my innards readjusting themselves to the 'appliance' (i.e. the mesh reinforcement of my abdominal wall) I'm in better health in many ways than I've been for the majority of my life.
At the same time, there is this persistent and growing sense of alienation. It's as though the more I discover about myself, what I want and need to be happy, the more unlike the rest of the world/population I discover myself to be.
To dinner yesterday, with Ted and myself, my mother invited a friend of hers, Marie.
She's a good example of what I consider to be 'normal' - your standard issue, reasonably competent middle-class north-american US citizen. In fact, she's almost relentlessly normal by some standards; she certainly seems to personify her particular demographic niche.
By the end of the afternoon I had to betake myself to a different part of the house to keep from jumping up and down and screaming at the constant stream of unthinking assumptions that flowed from her. I must be overly sensitive or something, I keep thinking, that such things infuriate me so much. She assumed Ted was older than I (my "big brother") because 'it just seems natural that girls should be younger.' She assumed that Ted and I being single (well, she only spoke about Ted, but I could feel I was being included) meant that we were sad, unloved and lonely. She talked about the strange and bizarre things people do to decorate themselves (piercings, tattoos, high heels) while wearing enough jewelry and makeup to choke a horse. She assumed that because I have lost weight, I am obsessed about food. She assumed that because I am female, I wanted children, wanted to talk about children, and considered myself unfulfilled because I don't have any prospects for children, let alone actual children.
Mostly I ended up being thankful I wasn't like her but that feels terribly uncharitable to say, no matter how truthful. And that my friends are nothing like her as well, even the ones closer to the center of the bell curve than I.
It's a strange universe, but it'll do.