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On Thanksgiving

A Reflective Piece on Thanksgiving



Fall is Here!

I love fall. At the first sign of cold weather, my little Ohioan heart wants to start hanging wreaths and baking apple pie. I put up with the hot and sticky summer to get here, the place where homes and hearts are warm and the air is so calm that you can hear the crunching of every leaf beneath your feet. I genuinely feel bad for those that don’t get to experience the colder seasons. It is a special kind of privilege to watch the earth shed its dead skin so that new life can come in.

I also love that fall’s arrival signals the impending holiday season. I love the smell of a Thanksgiving feast. I love preparing for guests and being so busy in my own kitchen, dancing, drinking a glass of wine, and losing myself in the preparation of the meal. I love that no matter how busy you are, everyone does their best to be home, to be together, to be a family.

It’s the Holiday Season, and My Calendar is Full

I come from a divorced and blended family. Growing up, the holidays were tinged with the stain of custody issues. While holidays were a much anticipated break from school, there was also the guarantee of one parent being bummed while my sister and I spent the day with the other. My parents worked very hard to make the holidays as fluid and love-filled as possible, but divorce makes things hard – I really don’t think there is any way around that. I looked forward to the day when holiday celebrations would involve less traveling and less busyness. My introverted heart longed to stay put and relax.

My first born is now almost three years old, and that means that my husband and I are now starting to make our own holiday traditions. Because our family is young, we still are expected to (and want to) make it to every other holiday celebration as well. It gets hectic. I just got off the phone with my husband who is having his annual hunting week with his brother; we discussed where we had to be, and when, for our Thanksgiving plans.

In the midst of this hunting week is Thanksgiving, which we spent with his parents, brother and sister-in law. Today (Black Friday), I drove home to my parents house with the kiddos for a quiet dinner and spending the night. Tomorrow we have a Thanksgiving get-together with my parents extended family, and my husband’s extended family Thanksgiving is on Sunday.

I broke down. I feel overwhelmed by plans and traveling and having to be so many places. Can anyone relate?

I Can Finally Relax

My parents’ house is quiet now. I am alone with this computer and a glass of wine. Everyone is in bed and I can hear my thoughts.

I am practicing mindfulness and gratefulness, especially in light of the Thanksgiving Holiday. I hate being busy. But I think that if I really focus and zero in on what I am busy doing this weekend, I cannot complain. We are so busy because we have so many people who love us. We are blessed to have large families, extended families, families-in-law, who care enough to make getting together a priority. We are blessed to have the opportunity to watch football, and hunt, and eat way too much, and take naps after dinner.

It’s Thanksgiving! Yes, there are a lot of obligations. There are many places to be and people to see. Traveling with kids is hard. But it is worth it. Seeing our grandparents who are in their 80s and 90s is important. Spending time with your family while you have them is important.

A Bit of Reflection

My father died almost 4 years ago. Before his passing, we had a strained relationship – we rarely spoke or saw each other. It has been 6 years since we spent a holiday together. Sitting here in the quiet, in my happy place, I am missing by dad. I would give up my quiet to have one more place I was obligated to go for Thanksgiving.

I guess my message is this – you can never have too many loving relationships in your life. Every one of the people who love you are important. It may be hard to balance. It may be damn near impossible to please everyone and be everywhere you need to be. But try. Try with a joyful, grateful heart. Thanksgiving is about being surrounded by family and friends and sharing good food and better company. Don’t let the pressure of a busy calendar prevent you from savoring time with the ones you love.

So How Do You Deal?

If you are like me, and being too busy sometimes becomes overwhelming, take some action to give yourself the space you need. Get up early and have an hour with coffee and a book. Excuse yourself in the afternoon for a quick walk outdoors. Volunteer to run to the store. If you have a long drive, explain to your spouse you need some quiet time, pop in some headphones, and tune out!

More than anything, take a few moments (sometimes just seconds is fine), to breathe deeply and ground yourself. Remind yourself of the brevity of the holiday season and that time with our loved ones is so often fleeting. Practice being present and not worrying about what is coming next. This is something I am working on for my own peace of mind and so that I can give my children a more whole and peaceful holiday experience during their childhood.

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