We always used to invite “strays” for Thanksgiving – people who would otherwise have holidays alone. Now I’m the stray. I have an invite for tomorrow, but it’s Thanksgiving eve and I’m sitting home alone (well, with my dog.) Working hard at not feeling sorry for myself.
All around me are houses full of guests, or empty ones that my neighbors have left to travel to their families. For days people have been shopping, cleaning, preparing. They ask me “where are you going?” with a sort of pitiful gentleness. They want to make sure I’m not alone. I’m grateful for the invitations, but I just wish it were over. These first holidays alone are hard!
I’ve done my best to make it as “less miserable” as possible. I’ve accepted an invite to join my neighbors, where I’ve never celebrated with Larry so there will be no associated memories.
I tried to be good to myself today. Bought myself sushi for dinner so I didn’t have to cook. Bacon for breakfast tomorrow – an unusual treat I don’t often cook for myself. I took my kayak out for a sunset paddle and the sunset didn’t disappoint but I sat at the edge of tears trying to enjoy it alone. I lit a fire for myself when I came home.
I know there is no getting past the grief, the loneliness. No going around it, just through it.
Grief around the holidays is the worst – it’s raw tasting. It’s coarse and gritty in texture and upsets my stomach. It’s like a turkey dinner in a fun house mirror – it sort of looks right but isn’t right at all. Not at all.
I don’t know why the grief feels so different right now. Perhaps there’s some self-pity flavoring it. Maybe some anger. There’s the oh-so-poignant comparison to memories of better times, and the societal expectation of Hallmark and Currier and Ives.
Larry loved Thanksgiving! It was his holiday to shine. He loved to cook and spent weeks choosing recipes. He loved to feed people, giving them much to choose from. Two turkeys, one for the table, one for leftovers to share. Many vegetable dishes, several stuffings. Mashed potatoes, gravy. Home made cranberry sauce. Everything, everything was made from scratch. My job was multiple pies and a pretty table. Oh, and a Thanksgiving ritual of the gratitude tree that we covered with leaves on which we wrote our thanks for all that was good in our life.
I practiced acts of gratitude today. I sent a book to a friend who helped me find the Caregiver Grant and pointed me to Santa Fe. I arranged flowers and delivered them to my host for tomorrow. I gave a floating Christmas tree to my neighbors who feed me once a week, and made some Coconut Sugar Body Scrub to thank my hula hoop teacher who has given me the chance to be playful through these dark months.
It’s finally late enough I can go to bed and this day will be over. And then tomorrow. Neither the good NOR the bad last forever. It’s all temporary, just like our lives on earth. I will get through it. I may be alone tonight but at least I know there are a lot of people are out there who love me and who I love. And I won’t spend the holidays alone. That’s luckier than a lot of people. That’s a lot to be grateful for.