It was quiet Thanksgiving morning. My kitchen was void of the warmth and scent of stuffing and turkey cooking in the oven. I trudged down the stairs to get the super- ad-stuffed newspaper to peruse while watching the parade. This, the first time it felt like a chore. I felt off – cranky, sad, and alone. My girls were in Texas with their dad and paternal grandparents for the Thanksgiving holiday. I was home alone in Nebraska left with my woe-is-me thoughts as my only comfort.
Holidays are hard. This refrain is a reality for most, but not all, divorced parents. Years into my divorce days and spending holidays without my children has not gotten easier. In some ways, it is harder than it was at the beginning. With each year my children age, they become more and more attached to the traditions from both houses. So now, they too, feel the tug of wanting all of their traditions each year.
They know that Mom watches the parade and preps for Black Friday shopping – and they now love joining in. This year they did not get to see the parade or go out in the early morning hours with their mom, grandma and aunt to seal some deals. They know that Dad watches the Cowboys game faithfully on Thanksgiving Day with a belly full of Turkey. In my years, the game does not even cross my mind and the girls miss the lazy hours during the game with background noise of fans cheering filling up their house.
Over the phone, they sent me happy Thanksgiving wishes and told me how much they missed me and wanted to be going shopping in the early morning hours. These sweet sentiments tugged at my heartstrings and deepened my sadness.
After an hour or so of masterful moping, I decided I had felt my feelings and needed to embrace the holiday. Giving thanks. I put on my favorite hanging-around-the-house sweater to cheer me up and gave thanks that I have a beautiful home that I can afford without worry of foreclosure or wondering how a rent payment would be made. I called my best friend in Florida and gave thanks for our 30 years of friendship. I watched the parade and sang (and maybe even danced a little) to the Broadway show tunes and gave thanks for feeling happy. I took a big fat nap and gave thanks for rest. That evening, I mustered up my courage and went to my favorite friend’s house for my very first Thanksgiving meal that did not include my family – but instead it included a table filled with my friends. I gave thanks.
Holidays may never get easier without my children, but I may get better at the ease with which I mourn it and make the most of it. With each year, I have hope that my sadness will shorten and hope that my appreciation will grow in the peace of these quiet holidays.