Friday, November 24, 2017

How to Live (and Wear) a Feme Sole Thanksgiving

Now that our grandparents and mother are dead, Thanksgiving is a lot different. A lot quieter, and so, a little weirder. For literally decades, we would gather at my grandparents' overheated, tiny house, which was filled to bursting with family, partners, friends, and orphans. Our increasingly deaf grandparents would blare Judge Judy and sportsball and the Macy's Day Parade; my grandmother and mother would holler at Eldest to add more broth to the stuffing, soupiness be damned. But as the years marched on, and people divorced and moved away and died, our numbers dwindled. And now, for the first time in 31 years, we aren't having dinner at the grandparents' house. That house stands silent and mostly empty and thoroughly abandoned, patiently waiting for a realtor to march people through and choose to buy it so they can have their own decades of family dinners there. And those few who remain--my sisters and partners, all childless, and myself--now gather in my sister's kitchen to break bread, give thanks, and all the rest.

This is also my first Thanksgiving as an officially divorced woman--a feme sole. This is what my beloved Oxford English Dictionary has to say about this:

feme sole, n.
Origin: A borrowing from French. Etymon: French feme sole. Law French feme sole, femme sole unmarried woman (1302 or earlier in Anglo-Norman) < feme , femme feme n. + sole soleadj. Compare post-classical Latin femina sola (1396 in a British source, in legal context). 
An unmarried woman; (sometimes) spec. one who is divorced or widowed. Also in the English and other common law legal systems: a married woman whose legal status, esp. with regard to her right to own property or to carry on a business, is that of an unmarried woman.

In other words? Fuck yes. It's funny, I was so uncomfortable in my 20s about being single, unpartnered, unclaimed, yet I had to become all those things to become comfortable with not being those things. And so now I wear this title with pride and joy and relief; it was a hell of a long road to get here, both legally and emotionally, and now that I am here, I am pretty ready to dig in, put down roots, and look down at all you other chumps with some smugness. Just kidding. Kind of.

I'm having a damned good Thanksgiving, despite the lack of family, and because of my feme sole state. Here's how I do it:

I decide I'm going to look good--look damned good. Wash my hair dammit, and choose an outfit that gets me a lot of compliments even if I think secretly it makes me look pregnant. (I'm not, and thankfully never will be.) I wear it with my best smile.

 Tunic from Rue 21; leggings from Meijer's because omg I wear leggings now!

I put on as much makeup as I want. Here's my view on makeup--it conceals what doesn't need to be seen and enhances what should be seen. It helps make me be the most radiant me that I want to be.

Couples at family holiday dinners are happily inevitable. When I was younger and the single odd duck, I felt self-conscious, unpaired, unloved. I'm older now, and now it doesn't bother me one jot, and if you're single, I hope it won't bother you either. The (let's hope) happiness of the couples at family gatherings are not a reflection on us single folk; not an indication of some sort of fatal flaw, and we can make our own happiness and freedom without a partner by our sides. And as I learned through my own bitter experiences, having a partner at your side at a family dinner is no indication of a satisfied, secure existence. I smile and laugh and talk and joke with the couples, admire the camaraderie that they share, and then I carry on being me.

I adhere to family traditions. With my people, this consists of
Eldest Sister slaves away in the kitchen, as she has done since Time Immemorial (she is now both the Matriarch and the Martyr of the Family) 
Middle Sister sits on the couch and peruses the Black Friday ads (although we aren't dummies, we don't go out into that brouhaha) 
The Little Odd Duck stays as much out of the way as possible and watches X-Files. This is a tradition that stems back to my teens, when I worked at a toy store and had to be to work at 3 AM the day after Thanksgiving, literally ducking toys flying overhead, so during Turkey Day I would hunker down, rest up, eat food, and drool over Scully. 
 Me, Pre-Drool
Occasionally I holler at Eldest Sister to add more broth to the stuffing. I don't care about stuffing, but it's what our mom and grandmother did. And what was good enough for them is good enough for us, dammit. 

So there we go--how I lived my  2017 Thanksgiving. It was chill but not chilly, lovely and cozy and filled with laughter and memories of people and days gone by. I lived it genuinely, as I have tried to do every day since taking the leap into Life After Marriage--as a sister, a friend, the Indy Grrl, the Odd Duck, Crazy Aunt Mel, and feme sole. It's a good life, and it's one I am grateful I had the courage to grab on to.

1 comment: