Saturday, November 22, 2008

Aprehension About Thanksgiving

I am distraught. I just wrote this whole long blog and was in blaring tears by the end of it and blogger lost it. I feel numb now. How do I pick it up and try again? I don't know if I can.

I grew up not celebrating things. Kids thought I was a JW. We had no Christmas tree and I had no birthday cake or presents. My parents in short grew up in families where presents where given but there were MAJOR issues when it came to actually being a loving family. I think these days put a bad taste in their mouth so they went as far the other way as possible with us. This was a mistake too but what do you do when you're a parent trying to do the best you can and still deal with your own baggage. They both had a lot of baggage. I'm absolutely certain I don't know the half of it all.
All I knew is that I could not understand why we didn't celebrate things the way other people got to. I would wake up on Christmas morning and lay in my bed wondering what wonderful family fun everyone was having. My dad would read the story from the bible over breakfast but that was it. Perhaps this is why I've developed an acute radar to legalism and tend to error on the side of having too much fun and sugar. :) I also grew up with no sugar and no white flour so don't get me started on my "finger gagging my mouth" attitude when people become so self-righteous about their purist ways either. Oh... better stay off that rabbit trail. The one birthday I do remember when I was five or six, my candle was on a plate. A plate. Melted to a plate. I blew a candle out on a plate. That was the last one I remember even having a candle. So, forgive me if I don't want to go down those trails again. I'm a passionate believer in moderation and even though we humans will fail at keeping it, I would rather keep striving for it than the alternative.
There was one day out of the whole year that was special. One. It was Thanksgiving. My mom would cook the big meal with it's southern flair (my family is from Indiana and Kentucky with roots in the south). Turkey, dumplings, cornbread stuffing, green beans with a spoon of bacon grease, 7-up salad, sometimes yams, a big green salad, and pumpkin pie. Oh, and that ridiculous can of cranberry sauce so lacking the originality the rest of the meal had. My mom would plop it out like jello onto a plate and then slice along the can impression lines. :*
It was a good day. My dad loved the food, my mom knew he loved the food and put her heart into it. The house would be clean and my dad would light the wood stove. There would be candles and music and warmth.

That day as I always knew it died when dad died. Last year I did all the cooking from scratch. It was my first time since we always went to mom and dad's for Thanksgiving. It was kinda "their holiday" since it was really the only one they ever did. When Rick and I were engaged we had our first Christmas in my bedroom with a little tree. I was not allowed to put it in the living room. Funny, because after Princess came, they started having a tree (they started with a few mini ones with lights around them and then worked their war up to the traditional one with ornaments and everything). I try not to think about it....more baggage. I'm sure I'm giving my kids their own baggage. As long as it's different baggage right?! :* Oh, dear. Anyway... I kept myself busy with cooking so I did not have time to think about the change. And it was at my house so it was very different. Thanksgiving as I had known it no longer existed and I seemed to be focused on a new version of it that was distracting enough to get through. I do remember just wanting to get it over with and hated that I felt that way about it. There was no alternative though. Probably the next morning one of the first things I said was "let's get the Christmas tree out!". I was anxious to move on. Christmas was "ours" and that was normal and comforting. It had not changed because dad had never been into it. This year my mom wants to have Thanksgiving back at her house. All of a sudden I'm panicked about it. I don't know if I want to sit around the table and feel the void. I'm proud of her though, because I know she does not want to even more than me and she is being brave to make a big step. Even that scares me. Will I have the energy to be strong for her? It means ignoring my own feelings to do so and I think I'm more scared of having to do that than giving into them. It takes more energy to push down pain to be there for someone else than it does to give into it and release sadness.

Scott will not be with us this year either. He is only coming home for Christmas. So there will be a double void and I just don't know if it will be too much.

Thanksgiving was dad. Mom was in the kitchen all day and dad was outside with us usually getting out the guns and doing dome target practice. When the grand kids came, it was them following him around the yard saying "Papa?" this and "Papa?" that. Pushing them on the swing out back in the tree, raking leaves, just being with him. He hardly ever stopped for life. This day he seemed to. What do you do when that's gone? I feel like the little girl on "The Grinch" only my heart is singing "where are you thanksgiving, why can't I find you? why have you gone away?"

Change is hard. Sometimes you cannot change something. You can only re-define it. It can never be what it once was, it has to become something new. You don't like the new. You hate it. You wish it would just go away completely but the world around you says it's still there so you try to work it out. You try to make it something new and special for the kids. You wish they could have had it the way you had it. You don't want them to have it this way.

I may dread it again this year. I may be glad with it's over. I may not be able to apologize for feeling that way. I may not be strong enough. I may not know what to do with myself. I may cry. I may try not to cry. I may be awkward the whole time seeing my mom try not to cry. I may make small talk. I may hate the small talk. I may walk outside and only hear the wind and wish I could hear the familiar scuffing of work boots coming up behind me with some new ingenious invention to entertain the kids on this once lovely day.

I know what I will do. I will be thankful for each one I love with me now. I will also pray for hearts akin to mine.


Christina said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Alicia. I know processing all this is hard, but the more you share, the more I know how to pray for you and be there for you.

Something we did when our plans got disrupted and emotions were fragile was to start some new traditions that kept everyone busy. That helped the kids to have fun (since they weren't carring the baggage!) and let us get through the day and emotionaly process at a different time when it was healthier for our family.

Some ideas are: having several crafts to do like making clove oranges (something that can be done at the table while you wait for dessert), Going for a long walk together, playing board games, starting on a christmas craft for presents, going out to a play or the melodrama. The idea was to have something that everyone looked forward to. This really helped our family. I'll be praying for you.

BTW, I took your idea about the Little People Thanksgiving set. I'm hoping that Emily and her cousin will have fun setting it up on their little kid table and that it will keep them occupied for a little while! Thanks for all your ideas from last year. I'm going to have to revisit them for more inspiration.

Alicia said...

thank you for your thoughts.

tricia said...


I will pray for you and your mom. I am so thankful that God brought you into my life and we are sisters in Christ.

love ya,

Judy said...

Oh Dear Heart. My thoughts are with you.

Lisa C. said...

I cried through your whole post. You are in my thoughts and prayers.