This morning as I forced myself and my aching hips to go on a neighborhood walk, I was listening to the Call Your Girlfriend podcast on the topic of ‘Chosen Family’. The girls were discussing their love of Thanksgiving (and Friendsgiving) and all this particular holiday brings (the good and the not-so-awesome). Two things they said that really stood out to me where:
- That the Thanksgiving holiday can have restorative powers when celebrated right; and
- There is no law that says that you must subject yourself to the pain that family gatherings can bring for some.
I’m paraphrasing, of course, but you get the gist. Let’s discuss, shall we?
I remember smiling wide during my walk when they made the first point about Thanksgiving being healing in some ways (my neighbors probably thought I was/am looney). I totally get this feeling. For me, Thanksgiving means my family – both nuclear and extended, which is a coup. If I can have my children, husband, Mom and sister sharing a holiday together, I’m winning – no question. The traditions of it all bring comfort as well. For example, I know there will be turkey. And Mommy’s peas and rice. My homemade cranberry sauce. And Hubby will have the pleasure of his aunt’s sweet potato pies. The kids will gorge themselves on mashed potatoes and Shirley Temples. Everyone is happy. DebListSta (that’s the name for my mom, my sister and me) will be in the kitchen, laughing and singing (Mommy and I literally sang “My Favorite Things” while cooking this year). It’s good.
And of course, along with the good, comes the challenging. For me, that means juggling travel logistics with a family of 5, crashing at my Mom’s BF’s house, and making time to visit ALL THE PEOPLE. My Dad and Stepmother; My In-Laws; My BFFs; and ALL of Hubby’s extended family – there are dozens and dozens. Attending his cousin’s wedding. Anticipating the looks and comments because I’ve gained so much weight. All the while, working like a maniac and trying to keep everyone happy and no one’s feelings hurt. No lie – it was a lot.
The second point from the podcast – about not having to subject yourself to the pain these gatherings can bring – I see from another standpoint: that of my sister. Because she’s Deaf, family gatherings are always painful for her because of the communication barrier. This year she was proactive and had us download Ava beforehand (and she also limited her visit). I’m guessing that was her way of mitigating the pain. For my part, I mitigated (kinda) by planning our Thanksgiving rounds before even landing in Miami. Thankfully my Dad agreed to do Black Friday Brunch to lessen the burden of the actual Thanksgiving Day (where we already had 2 dinners INCLUDING a baby shower to semi-plan and attend). I also made 2 separate trips to visit my BFFs instead of trying to plan a group get-together – it cut down on the coordination and I got to spend different kinds of time with each. Work was definitely the monkey wrench though – I couldn’t shake it this trip!
As they say about marriage: if you have more good days than bad days, you’re doing alright. The same goes for family holidays in my book – and this year, there were more good moments than stressful ones. That, combined with the sun, warm weather and delicious food did make for a restorative holiday.
Notwithstanding the fact that I launched a new business in the middle of it all! [More on that next…]