Well, I did it. I survived again something I wasn’t sure I was going to: Thanksgiving.
This wasn’t just any Thanksgiving; this one was different. You see, 8 years ago shortly after Thanksgiving, my husband of 24 years and the father of my 3 children walked out. So beginning that very next year, I had to “share” holidays.
Looking back, I have been blessed to not have had this years experience until now. Even when our divorce decree called for our two minor children to be with their father, my oldest son was around and made sure to include me with his family. Then, by the time our middle son was a senior in high school, he had taken his father to court and was no longer spending time with him, so I did not share him on the holidays, just our daughter.
Fast forward to this year. My oldest and his family now live in another state, my middle son is back living at home but had plans for Thanksgiving with a friend’s family, and my daughter was, per our divorce decree, to spend Thanksgiving with her father. She has spent other Thanksgivings with him, but then been with me for the weekend. This was the first time she would leave and be gone the entire holiday weekend.
So I found myself childless. For the first time in the 8 years of this new life I was thrust into, I found myself dreading a holiday in a different way.
At the beginning, I dreaded all days, not just holidays. I never expected to face it alone, I vowed and thought I would be married forever. So facing those first days, and then those first holidays, without life as I thought it would be was very difficult.
As I learned to survive, taking one step and one day at a time, I encountered many firsts. But until this year, I had not experienced a holiday without any of my children.
And yes, I did survive. I even enjoyed myself, laughed, had fun, ate too much and missed with all my heart all of my kiddos. I talked to each of them briefly during the day and heard about their celebrations and loved hearing the excitement in their voices and the tales of meals, prep, and time with family and friends. As I fought back tears, I told them how happy I was for them all. I truly meant it with all my heart and it is in no way their responsibility to make or keep me happy. So I don’t share with them how much days like this affect me.
But I do know that I am not alone; there are many of you reading this that experience the very same thing.
I am lucky to have a sister that lives close and includes me with her family. I am lucky to have friends who text, Facebook, and call to “check” on me. I pray that each of you have those special people in your life as well.
When we think we can’t survive, we can. And as we struggle in our own “new” lives, we take pride in seeing what great people our children have become.
Have you experienced a childless holiday? How did it go? What are your tricks to surviving it?