A Hard One…

We have all had them.

Holidays where loved ones shunned us. Times when dear friends died. Just those shitty times that we thought were going to be wonderful, but somehow turned out quite differently.

Well, yeah. Nothing horrible happened this year. I mean, 12 years ago, my middle sister had a fatal car wreck outside Atlanta, so this year was pretty tame.

Still and all – perspective and all that aside: middle son went “back home” this Thanksgiving. Let me clarify: two months after he graduated, our family moved 1500 miles away from where he grew up and graduated high school. Since then, he has come home to what – for all intents and purposes – is not home. This Thanksgiving, his dearest friend had her debutante ball, and he was invited. Her family, who has always loved my son, invited his attendance at this important family occasion. How could I object?

He got to see his middle and high school friends. Be a part of his dearest friend’s family. See his old teachers and mentors. I’m not mad.

My eldest son and his girlfriend had a baby earlier this month. I have a granddaughter. This Thanksgiving they wanted to do a “new family” thing. I get that. I have been there. Establish your own turf – what and how you want to mark the holidays and the passing of time. How can I object?

Youngest son is still at home. So, I guess he’s stuck. We had a fantastic meal that we prepared together. We watched movies. We talked. We made Christmas plans. Nothing to object to.

The funny thing is: I have always been the person who wanted some version of Clark Griswold’s holidays. I want a house crammed with people and pets and food and drink. I have never had that. Two marriages. Three kids. One grandchild. What I have always thought I wanted has never happened. But…

… it was a Thanksgiving with one person (a great person, don’t get me wrong!), and was a hard one. Well, it was hard for a minute. Then, it was pretty great once I remembered to embrace what is.

1We all get it – right? No one owes us anything. And, often the whole grass-is-greener scenario is all too real. But, think about this: if this first holiday of the season wasn’t exactly what you wanted: it’s ok. If it was a hard one: it’s ok. Things didn’t turn out how you wanted? It will be ok.

This holiday season, I resolve to embrace what is. Enjoy every person who is there. Enjoy every minute of every candle, carol, and cookie.

My hope for everyone who reads this is that during this holiday season – regardless of your religious and cultural ties  – you are able to take time and have love for all of those in your life.

Let go of preconceived notions and unrealistic demands. Just be. Let the happiness of the season –  the happiness of being alive – envelop you in its graciousness.





images-4It was quiet. Otherworldly quiet this afternoon when son #3 (the only one at home) and I took a walk. I posited that the normal car noise pollution was cut enough to let us actually hear ourselves think as we wandered the neighborhood, dog on leash, food in bellies, and crisp air on our noses.

Some holidays create this preternatural silence: Christmas Eve, Easter morning, and Thanksgiving afternoon. Neighborhoods usually bustling with yard games, parents shuttling kids to sports, teens heading off to work or out with friends slow down. These activties are muffled in the weight of certain holidays.

It was nice, this silence. We chatted in breathy tones, as if to talk out loud would upset the natural order. We listened to our footsteps. Son even scolded the couple of cars that had the temerity to speed past. We needed silence. Quietude.

Every day these past few months have brought screaming news stories of partisan outrage, social horror, and politics as anything but usual. Don’t get me wrong – the outrage is warranted; the horror is real; and I don’t even know where politics begin and reality TV begins anymore. But, we have had a dearth of quiet – and we need that quiet.

We need to find space and time to calm our own minds and souls. We can’t fight every moment. We can’t read comments every waking minute. It’s a horrible cycle to get stuck in. Read – discuss – rage – comment – fret – fume – read more. And then someone fabulous seems to die.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty wrong with the world and how things are going. And, if we are to live in this world, I think we have an obligation to be informed about it and make a difference where and when we can. However, I also know that we can’t stay stuck in fight-or-flight mode continually. A counselor once told me is that staying stuck in that fight-or-flight mindset has devastating physical and psychological effects on people. We have to find times and spaces to disengage from whatever is creating that conundrum.

We need silence. Unplug. Stay inside. Turn off. Go outside. Listen to nothing. Hear the beating of your heart. 56280158f47827df62b1c7033ec49d46Lay on the couch. Feel the whoosh of blood in your veins. Sit on the porch. Stretch the creaks in your joints. Feel. Breathe. Just be.

It’s likely been an eventful year for you. Possibly a rough year. Maybe a devastating year.

Don’t forget that silence is always available; we need only to welcome it.