Thanksgiving is difficult for me.
For all the years I was dating and married, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. We always went to Ohio to see his side of the family. After a night of feasting, we all left to spend the rest of the long weekend at cabins in a state park. Lots of family gathered. There were 4-5 cabins full of people. We shared meals, hikes, games, swimming, new babies, the loss of loved ones, fun stories, and lots of laughs. The kids grew up with the other kids and always looked forward to the time with them.
And then I moved out. My first night in my rental house was November 6, 2012. And as I settled in, Thanksgiving came closer. I was miserable thinking of the family that I wouldn’t see again at the cabins. The lack of closure with all of them. He said I should come along, but it didn’t feel right.
As I watched my kids drive away that first year with their father and I cried, I realized the saddest part was not the loss of time with my husband. To be honest, I never really spent much of the cabin time with him, so it wasn’t him I would miss. And then I got mad. Really mad that after everything I had done to try and keep my family together, it wasn’t enough. I was the only one working so hard. And that sucks. I wasn’t just losing my husband, I was losing so many loved ones all at once. And losing that special, yearly time with people I love dearly is really yuck ick no good.
That first year I hosted a Thanksgiving pajama supper with my mom and her best friend. And it was great. We watched movies and relaxed and I even did my first Black Friday shopping to one store.
And I was ok.
Last year, Thanksgiving was bitter sweet. I had just lost my precious dog Casey at the beginning of November. I had decided that I was going to just relax with my dogs for the long holiday weekend when the kids left and I had even bought special treats. But I was SO sad when he died and I worried about the time alone. I have great women in my life. So two of those women loaded up their own dogs and came to my house for the weekend. We relaxed, walked the dogs, watched movies, talked for hours, and had lots of treats.
And I was ok.
This year as October began to pass me by, I started to get nervous and realized it was about Thanksgiving. I didn’t have plans. I started to think of all my options and thankfully, I do have lots of options.
But Thanksgiving is difficult for me.
So I decided it has to be something pretty different to make me feel good. Because this year, I’m officially and no longer married. And it is the anniversary of my Casey’s death. And I’m feeling a bit unforgiving and bitter. Not about my marriage ending. At least, not all of it is about that. I’ve had some other challenges this year and in general, I just feel unsettled. Anxious. Depressed. And unforgiving.
So one day at the end of October, I booked a flight to Alaska. And then I hoped to God that my friend was ok with that (she was) and would want me to stay at her house and share her holiday.
I’m on the plane now as I’m writing this. And I know it was the right thing to do. Because I cried when the plane took off. I cried a lot. But only for a few minutes and then I just felt peace. A release. A comfort in knowing that I am taking care of myself. A comfort in knowing that my kids are with family having a good time. A comfort in knowing that I’m still stepping forward each day and not feeling stuck.
And I’m ok.
Thanksgiving is difficult for me. And so is forgiving. But today as I have been in this plane for nearly 7 hours I have done a lot of thinking. And I think I’m ready to let go of some stuff that’s been stuck. I miss my life sometimes so much, especially when things get tough for me in whatever way they’re tough. But that life is not me anymore. And that’s ok. I miss it. And that’s ok too. But I don’t miss who I let myself be and what I hid behind and what I ignored.
I want to forgive. Mostly myself. Not because I feel all to blame or anything ridiculous like that. But because I’m really hard on myself for the decisions I’ve made for me. But I spent countless hours evaluating and examining those decisions and I know I made them for the right reasons and with clear information. One of my most favorite things I have ever heard in any church is “Your direction, not your intentions, determine the course of your life.” And my direction is good.
I am not a failure. And I am not to blame. And I am not selfish and closed off and broken.
I am ok. I am me. And I forgive me for not letting that feel good.
I’m maybe always going to have to do something crazy over Thanksgiving because I will always miss the cabins and the family I lost when my marriage ended. But that’s ok too.
I’m starting my own way of celebrating this holiday. And I’m always going to make sure and take some of the time to forgive myself for the times I don’t give myself any or enough credit.
I shall call it ThanksForgiving.
I like it. And I’m ok.