OK, I finally figured out one reason I have been in a pissy mood lately. The holidays. I still haven’t figured out how to enjoy the holidays post-divorce. Thanksgiving is of a particular sore spot for me.
During my marriage, I was the go-to hostess for Thanksgiving. I’ve written about this before. Every year we would host anywhere from 18 to 24 people. I would take off the week in order to properly prepare for the day. I loved it. I make an amazing turkey — my Ex even said as much to my daughter recently. Everyone had a fabulous time, but it was a lot of work. A lot because my Ex did little to help. He cleaned the patio and asked copious questions — so damn needy. The most help I got was from my housekeeper who I always had come clean the day before. Post clean-up was all me. Set up — all me. Cooking: 75% me. It was my day and yes, it was my day by choice. I loved being the “hostess with the mostess” and when we sat outside at the beautiful tables I arranged, I felt happy. Frazzled, but happy to have everyone around.
Guests were my Ex’s family (he is one of 4 kids) so that made up the bulk of the guests. Then we had family friends round out the balance. Everyone was really bummed when we announced our separation. One family friend mourned the loss of Thanksgiving immediately. She told me, “the first thing my girls said was ‘oh no, Thanksgiving!'”.
Fast forward to today, four years later. Not once have I received an invitation to Thanksgiving by any of the folks I hosted over the past 25 years. Not one. OK, OK, yes, it’s a lot of Ex family, but what about the friends? What the fuck was I doing for these people all these years? I don’t even get a “Happy Thanksgiving” from any of them. I don’t get acknowledged, contacted, na da. It makes me angry.
It makes me angry because somehow I feel like after all those years of hosting, I am entitled to something better than what I have. I feel like I’m entitled to at least the societal nicety of a Thanksgiving message/touch from these folks.
The first years of my freedom I would go to a swanky dinner with my girlfriend. It was nice and I enjoyed getting dressed up for an elegant evening. It wasn’t exactly what I was seeking, but it was nice.
The first year the Hunter and I were together, I invited friends and our sons for Thanksgiving. I wrote about it and it was nice. The Hunter was concerned about how much work it was for me. As I re-read my post about it, I am realizing how much I really did enjoy it. It was about 8 people and that might be the right size.
Last year the Hunter and I went camping, just the two of us. It was nice, but I missed the turkey, the family togetherness and all the other warm, fuzzy things that Thanksgiving brings. We sat and watched large groups celebrating the holiday over the course of the weekend. I felt left out quite honestly.
This year is a bit different. Taz and her hubby will be down on vacation for the entire week. I wanted all of us (my son included) to go out for an early lunch, but Taz’s in-laws are flying in on Thanksgiving Day so that’s too complicated/stressful for all of us. Instead we will hang out at their beachfront Airbnb and eat stone crabs and drink champagne. Then we will part ways for Round 2 in the evening. Taz will join her dad and his family while the Hunter and I will join his family. This is the first time the Hunter has spent Thanksgiving with his sister’s clan in about 3-4 years. It will be interesting, but I’m looking forward to sharing the holiday with a family crowd.
The holidays are tough for me. I don’t want to make demands on my kids. My mom did that to me and it sucked. On the same token, I also don’t want to be the patsy or somehow overlooked. Part of me wants to get on a cruise ship for Christmas (this is a recurring destination choice for some reason) so I can just forget about it. Even that will cause me angst because being far away from everyone has proven not to be the solution anyway.
When I first separated from my Ex, my therapist pushed me to think about the holidays and what I wanted. Fast forward four years and I am still trying to figure out what I want. Now that Taz is married, she and her hubby have a rotation of holidays figured out. Very fair, very smart, very much their choice.
Last year the Hunter and I spent Christmas with my parents. My dad was pretty much an absentee dad once my parents got divorced. As Taz and I have discussed, he isn’t much of a father or grandfather to kids, but he’s fine once we grow up. Anyway, I hadn’t spent a Christmas with my dad since perhaps college. It was weird and we don’t want to do it again.
This Christmas we will probably stay put. I don’t particularly like trips over the holidays — too many other people are traveling, it’s expensive. Bah humbug. The only problem is that the Hunter has a yearning to see snow. He hasn’t seen snow. Not snow in serious quantities. Funny, right? A 50-year-old American that hasn’t seen real snow.
I need to put some thought into what makes me happy during the holidays. I think it’s a recipe that includes:
- Family and close friends
- Good food
- Relaxing fun
Perhaps now that I know the holidays continue to be a source of angst to me, I can recognize it and practice some forgiveness as well as some thankfulness. Geez, when will I ever let this crap go?