Tis the Day before Thanksgiving and the grocery stores are packed, turkeys are thawing, and cookies are baking. Loved ones are packing their bags and families are gathering together. This is what much of America is in the midst of preparing. It was our holiday story until last year.
Although there are many families that are gathering and preparing food together, there are many families separated. Separated for many reasons: separation from death, divorce, deployment, estrangement, health, etc. Our reason is a separation by choice; Separation to build a healthier model of family.
Separation by choice is not something well accepted or understood in most circles. It often has a stigma and shame attached to it. I have learned to drop the shame, but the stigma still lingers.
In the past week approaching this holiday I have felt loneliness creeping in. I have felt the loss of family and the loss of what I wish it was. I recognize that is grief. I have given it its space.
But yesterday, I pulled out my cookbook of family recipes. I ordered supplies and began preparing to teach my boys some of our favorite dishes. I realized in less than 24 hours, work will be closed for the holidays and my intimate crew will begin our celebrations. The beginning of our second year of healthier holidays. We have created a safe haven where boundaries are respected and apologizes are spoken. A place where we call out bad behavior, change it and then we graciously move forward. We don’t have elephants in our home. We don’t sweep anything under our rugs. We are still messy. We are still imperfect, but our food settles a little easier.
Starting fresh can be hard, especially during holidays that are rich in tradition. There are valid reasons that this hard choice would be a wise choice.
If you are finding yourself in a holiday transition, I encourage you to embrace the things you love and share with someone nearby. We all want connection and we are touched by traditions, but remember traditions are just the wrapping.