Holidays are my favorite time of year. I love a good party, a good theme, good food, and most of all . . . I love family. My vision for my life was one of family dinners surrounded by the ones I love: my handsome husband and my rambunctious children. Beautiful chaos.
Fast forward to my current state of reality. These days, I get to enjoy that beautiful chaos (minus the husband) every other holiday. The next eighteen years of holidays have been solidified into a court-mandated schedule. One year off, one year on.
This is my first year “off.” I will be celebrating Thanksgiving all by my lonesome, while my daughter will be celebrating with her father. For some reason, this reality struck me in June. I will be alone for the holiday. Cue the emotional breakdown. I was grief-stricken; heartbroken all over again, devastated, depressed, and distraught. I wanted to scream and cry. The rest of my family is scattered throughout different cities and the one person who I want to be with, my incredible child with a beautiful heart, will be gone.
Poor, sad, Candice. I threw myself a pity party and complained in a buzzed stupor to anyone who would listen. The invitations came rolling in. While I appreciate the well-intentioned friends and family offering to feed me, I know that if I can’t be with the one I want to be with, I really don’t want to be with anyone.
Then another thought hit me and I got a bit excited . . . Zingerman’s caters Thanksgiving. Even for one person. I don’t have to cook. I don’t have to clean. I don’t have to share stuffing with anyone. I can have a mini pecan pie, all by myself. I can buy a new outfit and go to church, all by myself. I can splurge on a bottle of Duckhorn and enjoy it, all by myself. I will light pumpkin spice and vanilla candles all around until it smells like I spent the weekend baking. I will Christmas shop from my couch. I will dig out the Elf on the Shelf and Christmas decorations.
But most of all . . . I will GIVE THANKS.
To all of the friends and family who have supported me through the past two hellish years; for surprising me with gift cards, dinners, wine; for loving me when I felt I was at my absolute worst. And on Saturday morning? I will pick up my greatest gift and blessing. And together we will cook and bake and craft and slip into our Christmas pajamas early. We will decorate our tree and we will celebrate our own Thanksgiving. Our love and thanks and joy are not dictated by a silly calendar, they are alive every single day. And since our time together is split, I make sure that we show love, thanks, and joy any chance we can.
As a stepparent I was the one trying to make the holiday happen for the hubby and kids. One step and one ours. I learned early that we all are affected by this. Our son not understanding why his sister wasn’t there on Christmas morning to open presents. Why my husband felt he needed to be able to make his daughters holiday a little extra special because she missed out on our holiday happenings because she was with her Mom. And me, frantically trying to make both events magical for all, the actual holiday and the one early or later depending on how we could work it around daughter being with her other family. Something we realized, it didn’t matter when we celebrated but how. We now have certain rituals we celebrate for just the 4 of us. We now have our own traditions and it doesn’t matter the date it matters that we are all together. I’m happy you realized this early and can start your own new traditions and relish the time you spend building memories.
You are amazing Candace!