Thanksgiving and Christmas used to be my favorite holidays. Well, they usually fell right behind Halloween, yet still a favorite. But in the last few years, I’ve come to dislike all of them. So, I’ve been thinking why has my heart changed about the three times of year I looked forward to most? It didn’t take long to figure it out, and part of me just holds my breath as I try to get the huge lump in my throat to ease.
I loved these holidays because they reminded me of the innocence of childhood, they were some of the few happy moments I experienced, and then for my kids… oh, my God, to see the looks of excitement, joy, anticipation, and happiness on their faces made me try even harder to make those times better and bigger. Some of my fondest memories are hearing my kids try to negotiate opening presents earlier than scheduled, sneaking bites of the Thanksgiving meal before it was served, and getting a sugar-high from all the candied loot and the excitement from corn mazes, haunted houses, and riding around looking at Christmas lights.
I dread the holidays now because it’s a reminder of the life I no longer have, the children that are now grown and don’t need me anymore, who are located so far away that I’m not even part of their lives. I started crying in the grocery store the other day because I saw all the Thanksgiving items stacked in the center isle… I have no one to cook for. I used to start preparing a few days before Thanksgiving marinating the Turkey with salt, butter and Cajun spices, and checking off my list to make sure I had all the ingredients to make the full menu. I’d start the slow prep like cutting the onions and celery, so they’d be ready when I started mixing, and start boiling the eggs, baking the cornbread and biscuits to use for the dressing and stuffing. I’d be making my list for Black Friday shopping, mapping out a strategy to get the biggest items first before the sun even came up, usually in a divide and conquer plan my ex-husband and I split. Then after spending the first few hours of daylight wrapping presents, Christmas decorating would commence. While lights were being strung outside, I decorated the tree and the inside. Which now reminds me… I don’t even know where the decorations I’ve collected over years are. Did I leave them, did he throw them away, are they boxed somewhere, does it matter? The end of the year was celebrated with Sparkling grape fruit, upcoming wishes, and fireworks. Then the day after all the decorations would be packed away very carefully, to start again the next year.
So here I am now… single, no kids, most of my life still packed away in boxes stuffed inside a storage unit being exposed to the heat, cold, and rats. How did I get here? I was a good wife. I was a good mother. The key word is ‘was’. I don’t know who I am anymore. I can’t be where I want to be, I can’t be who I want to be, I’m stuck in a life where I’m so lost and very much alone. Can’t I just sleep until January? Spending time with friends and their families don’t help… it’s a just stark reminder that I don’t have a family of my own anymore. I know they mean well, but it doesn’t help. How did I get here?
I’m going to try hard to be jolly this season, to be thankful, to be happy during the holidays, but forgive me if the tears fall when I order a dinner for one with food I can’t even eat, or give gifts to others that are not my family. During the holidays, if you see someone else alone, I don’t know what to tell you. Sometimes reaching out and offering a hand, an invitation, can make a huge difference, but sometimes it can make them feel worse.
Maybe I’ll get involved with some charity organization where I’ll work in a soup kitchen to feed the hungry on Thanksgiving and buy me a new video game to help me forget all about Christmas.
Till next time,