I might be in the minority here, but I genuinely hate the holiday season. So often I’ve wished we could just skip all holidays at the end of the year and just power through to the new year.
I used to like Thanksgiving at one point in time but since I’m divorced, that holiday isn’t the same anymore either. In 2018, even though we were separated, the ex and I still got together with the boys and we cooked, just like we had in years past. Last year, my dad and I visited my sister’s family. This year, my dad has remarried and moved across the country. My boys both have to work. The ex has travel plans. There’s a big snow storm heading our way Thanksgiving day. My sister is having friends, her other half and his mother over for dinner and vegging with football. My sister is the closest family and I planned to spend it with her. However, I just looked at my bank account and made the decision to stay home. I shall have four glorious days off, all to myself, just me and my pup, Chico. Unfortunately, I do not get holiday pay so my next check will be a bit sparse. My dad texted asking what my plans were. I told him I’d rather stay home and give the entire business a miss.
I keep seeing posts saying one’s mental health is so much more important than choosing to spend time with family when the relationships are unhealthy, abusive or toxic. I could not agree more. There are a myriad of reasons why families do not get along. I can speak from experience and say that grinning and bearing it, even for one day is not worth the bother. It’s the “shoulds” that get us every time. Why “should” we go be with family when the emotional turmoil is the cost we pay? It doesn’t make sense. I did it for all the years my mother was alive, just to keep her happy. I denied my instincts. I denied myself and never acted in my best interests. Amidst my inability to stand up for myself, I resented the pressure put on me to show up and put on a happy face. I resented being expected to play my role in her Norman Rockwell idea of what Thanksgiving and Christmas should look like. My mother wanted to relive her holiday experiences she had as a child but that ship had sailed long ago when we moved to Arizona.
My mother’s last Thanksgiving and Christmas was in 2015. She passed away on June 5th, 2016. That last Thanksgiving and Christmas with her were actually the best. I knew it was going to be her last holidays spent with us all together. On Thanksgiving, we went to Golden Corral for dinner. There was 11 of us. No stress, no dishes to clean, everyone was together and we ate well. On Christmas, we all got together again at my folk’s house. We took pictures. Opened gifts. Laughed. My mom really enjoyed the day with us all around. I remember my dad scolding my sister’s kids for squabbling. They didn’t know this was grandma’s last Christmas, they were just being kids. My dad wanted it all to be perfect because he knew how much mom enjoyed having everyone together.
All the holidays after 1987 up until 2015 were tough. All the holidays since 2015 have been tough and this year is no different. There’s been so much change for me in the past two years. Most notably, moving, a divorce and losing 4 family members within that span of time. This time of year is always a mixed bag of memories and emotions for me. Someday I’ll put forth effort to make new traditions and memories. This is not the year, however. As I said before, I’m just trying to power through to 2020.