Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Bi-Polar Thanksgiving

After 14 years of marriage I'm too much of a realist to not expect the actual day of Thanksgiving to be ruined by any number of relatives and crazy weird drama. This is why I refuse to host Thanksgiving and also why a few years ago I started to make a Thanksgiving feast to be enjoyed by just my little family.

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays. I do love the feast but I also love the overall spirit of Thanksgiving. I love getting together with family not to exchange gifts, and the little traditions I've started with my family revolving around giving thanks all month, and I like to send out thank-you notes each year to tell people how thankful I am for them. In my eyes Thanksgiving is just a beautiful holiday and I refuse to let anyone ruin it for me (any longer).

First Up:
I cooked and cleaned all day Wednesday. My VERY kind sister volunteered to stay that night at my house to watch little Abe the next day. My husband and I both had to work very early on Thanksgiving (as we're in retail and it's one of the biggest sale days of the year). Once the house was clean and the meal was almost ready it was the most wonderfully warm cozy feeling to have a feast in my kitchen and to know I'd be sharing it with my family in our (not generally as tidy) little home.

We don't normally eat at the dining room table but on this occasion the three of us and my sister sat down together for the feast. Little Abe had really been looking forward to Thanksgiving and honestly he was thrilled to be eating in the dining room as a family. He was the one who insisted we all hold hands to say grace and he said the blessing for our food. It was pretty adorable since he forgot to actually say thanks for the food. We dined on a pretty great turkey if I do say so myself, mashed potatoes with gravy from scratch, corn, stuffing, and rolls. I added mashed sweet potato to the potatoes and I would have made green bean casserole but the store was sold out of the cream of mushroom soup without the MSG in it. 

All three of us had smiles, enjoyed the meal and had to wait a bit for dessert as we were thoroughly stuffed. I honestly went to bed (later than I'd hoped) with a smile on my face. I felt so full of warmth, happiness, and gratitude.

First Down:
I was out of bed by 3am for work. I was honestly still in a great mood and not the least bit whiny about having to work on the holiday. I'd be out by noon and we'd have dinner at the in laws that evening. But when I got in the store I saw the line of customers waiting for the 6am sales to roll out and something inside of me just ached. I know that black Friday shopping is really fun for a lot of people. I know that the savings are GREAT and even though, no thank-you not for me, I get it. But Thanksgiving... I don't really have words to explain it but seeing the long line of people waiting for TV's on Thanksgiving day made me really sad. I literally started crying (yeah, I may not have gotten enough sleep the night before).

After work I headed home (exhausted) to as quickly as I could make baked mac'n'chesse and a pie for dinner at my in laws. Little Abe was happy to see me. My sister said he'd been really good and it looked as thought they'd had fun. I was happy to be home, ready for the three day weekend, and honestly I love to cook. The baked mac'n'cheese is a beloved family recipe passed down by my grandma who is no longer here. In a way I feel close to her every time I make it. As soon as my contribution to the meal was ready we left for my in laws house.

It's always the same and I'm not going to get into it but I left the evening of Thanksgiving festivities very upset, very, very tired and very upset. I went to sleep angry, hurt, annoyed... it's honestly always the same. I woke up the next day mad at the world and also angry that "sleeping it off" didn't work quite as I'd hoped.

Friday morning while in my mad woman, angry face, not speaking to my husband, horrible mood I decided I should take a time out and read. Needing a time out before the day has even started and before having even talked to anyone in my household is pretty extreme, right? I picked out one of my very favorite books from the bookcase in the living room and sat down in a violent grump.

Reading from Erich Fromm's, "To have or to be," there were bits about happiness not being the main goal in life and I had a tiny epiphany. I suddenly had to ask myself why I get so incredibly upset around these certain people and at these holiday gatherings. Granted I think my frustration in these situations is natural but I came to the conclusion that it all boils down to my not agreeing with them (about virtually every thing ever about anything) and vice versa.

The long and short of it is that my not agreeing with anyone and their not agreeing with me (I'm REALLY boiling it down right now) should not control my happiness. I know, huge epiphany right? Okay, so maybe this should be common knowledge but apparently it's a lesson that I need to learn. What can I say? I'm really stubborn. Just because I have the desire for us to agree and get along does not mean we have to agree and get along. I don't need to be so uncomfortable because of them when I can truly be comfortable with me, and others, and not let them have so much power over me. Granted this is something I'm going to have to figure out and work on but it's something I honestly hadn't seen before this past Thursday.

I will add a footnote to say that the disagreements have nothing to do with politics, and it's not that we're arguing back and forth each time we get together we just live very different lifestyles and... tension, drama between other family members (I try to avoid drama)... I just don't have fun. But I think it could be less uncomfortable if I stop letting all the crap bother me as much. What is it they say in that one song from that one super popular movie... "let it go, let it go..."


  1. Amazing how not going to Thanksgiving kept my anxiety at bay. I'm so sorry your lovely spoiled was spoiled. Hopefully you can just embrace the parts that were a blessing and move forward.

    1. I've learned over the years how to embrace the little things especially as a way to get past the uncomfortable things. I'll look back at this Thanksgiving as really wonderful because of our little family meal and our fun traditions. The meal at my in laws will just be added to the books as yet another uncomfortable, unpleasant holiday behind us. I'm over it. I'm just hoping to not get as upset next time (Christmas).

  2. Remember that you can't change people that we are forced to interact with(whom we wouldn't otherwise). We can only change the way in which we react to them.

    1. Wise words. I'm going to start working on how I react. I've given such people way too much power over me for WAY too long.

  3. It's so hard when you are living your life, content with your choices, and your lifestyle crashes into that of your family during the holidays. We adore my family, but there is one issue that drives M batsh*t bananas, and it causes me a lot of stress.

    All I can say is, that with everything, including our families, we have to take the good with the bad. We have to figure out how to be comfortable with the choices & decisions they make, and not let them be reflective of our choices & decisions. We can embrace them as loved ones without agreeing with them.

    Or, so I tell myself. ;-) Sending you lots of hugs. Please take time out for yourself. It's so hard to work retail over the holidays. Have a hot bath, a cup of tea, get outside in the fresh air for 15 minutes for a walk with your sweet boy.

    1. I'm going to take that last bit of advice to heart. I think I'm going to take some time out for a walk and a nice hot bath today.

      I appreciate that you mentioned how stressful it is for you when your husband gets crazy about your family. Even though the same issues bother my husband that bother me I hardly take into account how much my frustration stresses him out. Okay, mission Christmas: I need to just let it all go.