Monday, November 16, 2009

Stumbling Through the Holidays

Holidays are tough. Thanksgiving is especially hard for me. It was the premier holiday of our year. Although I made sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, spinach casserole and dessert, Ralph always cooked the turkey and dressing, including his own recipe for jalapeno dressing (which I avoided like the plague). At dinner, everyone would chorus, "This is the best turkey you've eeeverr made," and he would grin like a fool.

Further back, I remember the Thanksgivings of my Austin childhood: big family gatherings, sometimes with soldiers stationed at nearby bases, the Texas-Texas A&M game and the UT Tower glowing orange against the night sky after a Longhorn victory.

I'm fortunate that my children live in town. Now I celebrate Thanksgiving with my daughter-in-law's family. Different home, different table. That makes it easier.

I've kept my husband's message on the answering machine, and at the end of the day I dial our number to hear his voice on a special day. Then I shed a few tears in private.

What else works? Starting a new ritual, inviting friends to dinner who haven't shared past Thanksgivings may help. Or if you can't manage cooking, going out with others who are alone is a good idea (even though restaurant turkey isn't the same as home-cooked). Spending the day volunteering at a facility that feeds the homeless may make you feel needed. If your church or synagogue sponsors a Thanksgiving dinner, go. Make a list of things you're thankful for; you'll surprise yourself that even when you're grieving, there are many things to appreciate--the support of friends, the lovely fall colors, the sound of a child's laughter.

The one thing you probably shouldn't do is be alone. Sharing, even if you're sharing loneliness, really does help.


Boo said... [Reply to comment]

I'm approaching my first Christmas and New Year's Eve without Cliff with a lot of trepidation, so this post was so helpful to me. Thanks a lot for sharing ... if I'm honest, I WAS contemplating NYE on my own, but now I shan't. Thanks again.


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