“If you’re reading this then, you’ve made it through Thanksgiving just fine.” This email from Richard made me laugh and laugh. I did indeed make it through Thanksgiving just fine, as I hope you all did, as well. Holidays, for me, have not always been the joyful events they’re intended to be, and honestly, I think many of us find ourselves stressed out during large family gatherings. Some of mine have been more difficult than others, last Christmas being one of them. That was when I decided I’d rather spend time with my loved ones when there isn’t the onus of a big to-do, and enjoy their company without feeling strained, on alert, resentful, or just plain crazy. When my grandmother, whom I love very dearly, asked me over Labor Day weekend if I was coming for Thanksgiving, I was caught off-guard; I hadn’t expected to have to address it so early. But, rather than be noncommittal or evasive, I told her very plainly and apologetically that I would not, but that I hoped to visit her and Kayla sometime during the holiday season so we could have a nice dinner and spend some time together. She was disappointed, but understood perfectly, and from the sounds of it, everyone had a really lovely holiday.
As with other times in my recent life when I have made choices not based on my fears of what others would think, say, or do, but based on my own needs, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the whole thing was. When I stick to stating my Truth simply and plainly, with no attempts to placate, no self-flagellation, and it is received with understanding and acceptance, I feel stronger in my conviction that direct, clear, loving communication leads to healthier relationships – and that I am capable of engaging in that kind of communication with every person in my life without losing anything worth having. Every time I am afraid of what I will lose if I state my Truth, and so keep silent, I am cheating myself of the best relationships I can have. Remembering this doesn’t mean I always push past this fear, but I find myself doing it more often as time proves it to be a tool for happiness.
That being said, my Thanksgiving was truly wonderful, from start to finish. Erika got a turkey from work as a holiday perk (the 16.5lb beast is nearly gone after 24 hours in the house with Joshua, while I thought I’d have to make turkey everything for a week. Silly me), and invited me to cook a traditional dinner at her place. I gave Joshua the option to come with me or to visit with mom, her boyfriend, and his son Alex, who is just Joshua’s age; he went with them to Doug’s sister’s and had a great time, as well. Erika and I invited a couple of people to join us for the meal or after eating with their families; three of us enjoyed a simple but ginormous (and delicious, if I may say so) dinner, then were joined by a fourth and shook off our sleepies by karaoke-ing along with J-Lo radio on Pandora and playing a few rousing games of Scattergories. Despite having been up since 8:30am to get the turkey going and cooking for the better part of 6 hours, I got my second and third and fourth winds as our celebration continued into the wee hours, with a combination of silliness and quiet appreciation for the love we’d surrounded ourselves with this Thanksgiving.
I’ll leave you with a few highlights of the day for your visual enjoyment. Be well!