In the last year, my husband lost his last immediate family member. Most years, our Thanksgiving was spent with his parents or sister, and now they are all gone. For a moment, for this first year, that left an empty feeling in us about this holiday…usually so full of family sharing and catching up…and laughter…and good food.
We don’t have children so there is no connection there…and for many who do have children, they start to go off with their spouses families as time goes by…so that isn’t always an available connection that can be counted on.
At first I was sad as I have big emotional expectations for that particular day. It my childhood, it was always a very happy day with no punishment or arguing. It was good to process that not having immediate family to share it with was a real loss, a genuine grief. I started wracking my brain to think of ANYONE we could invite to spend Thanksgiving with us so I could fill my house with the smell of a roasting turkey. But there are some events that must be genuine and can’t be “recreated” with a new cast of characters. So, what to do.
My brother has been going to an in-law’s house for the last several years with a HUGE group of people we didn’t really know. That didn’t feel like something we wanted to do. Technically we are distant family, but that is not the same as being with people who you know, that you have spent years with.
Then it occurred to me that we could go to the local soup kitchen and serve food to the homeless. THAT felt awesome…genuine good feeling…not recreated feelings. I asked my husband and to my surprise he thought that was a good idea! So the energy shifted. The sadness had to be processed to make way for a new light, a new joy.
I think at this holiday time of year it is important to be honest with ourselves so we can move on to a new experience. If it makes you sad, then be honest with yourself about it, then let it go, and think of something NEW to do for this holiday that would make YOU feel good. The idea of serving people who needed a meal felt very, very good.
As it turns out, my brother is going to have Thanksgiving at his house this year, so we have a place to go after all. But even if we hadn’t had that offer, we were ready for a NEW Thanksgiving. Also I happened to see a cooking show about roasting just a turkey breast with gobs of herbed butter under the skin, so I plan to do that the day after Thanksgiving so we can have left over turkey…the BEST turkey!
The important thing about this special day is to be thankful for what ever we have in our lives. It may even be less that what we used to have, or more. But being in a state of gratitude, no matter where you have your meal, or with whom you have it, is really what this day is about…and it feels awesome. Enjoy!