Mental Aspect of Holidays Sometimes Harder Than the Physical
Every holiday at Our Little House since 2007 has been about trying to establish new holiday traditions.
Some years have been easier than others, for some reason.
Thursday, I would say, was one of the hardest Thanksgivings since we’ve been here. During past years, we have either been to my aunt’s house to celebrate or gone down to our neighbors, but this year, they both left town.
As I wrote several months ago, we just haven’t made many friends in our new small town and the ones we have made have never mentioned getting together on a holiday. (Several did ask me what we were doing, but we didn’t receive an invite!)
Dale and I did plan a special dinner for Thursday. Neither one of us has ever cared for the traditional turkey and both of us have family stuffing recipes that we can’t seem to duplicate, so we planned on grilling a prime rib I bought Dale for Father’s Day (he takes a while studying the grilling methods and working his way up to the actual cook).
However, when we got up on Thursday morning, something – I don’t even remember what now – reminded me so vividly of my mother – that grief and sadness set in.
I told Dale I just didn’t feel like celebrating. “Isn’t it a celebration with just me?” he asked.
“Well, yes,” I said. “It’s just different.”
He shook his head, I’m sure recalling, as I was, the hectic holidays of our past, going to two, sometimes three dinners in one day to make his grandmother and both sets of parents happy, while also spending some time with my family.
“It’s different alright.”
I did my best of following my own blog post advice from Thursday. I wrote out my gratitude list in my vision journal, I listened to music; we took a couple of naps.
By dinner, we still weren’t feeling it, so I instead prepared a taco pizza, a dinner we traditionally have on the Saturday following Thanksgiving while watching our favorite holiday movie, “Christmas Vacation.”
It wasn’t as though we were still used to those huge holidays by the time we moved here. His grandmother was long gone, his father had retired out of town and his sisters were grown with families of their own, as are my nephews. The last two holidays my mother was still with us was spent with just the three of us, something I was by then, grateful for.
But I think losing that one last person who tied our memories together into that neat little package somehow has a long-term effect that is hard to overcome.
A friend recently posted on Facebook that the “magic” had returned to her holidays this year. “Afterall, she wrote, I guess it’s about time, my mother has only been gone for 9 years now.”
I posted that I was still going through the motions, but that spark had yet to return. I found hope in her post though, and reminded myself the first rule of grief – that there is no set time limit, that all of us mark the milestones at different times.
By Friday, my attitude of gratitude had returned, allowing me to live more in the present than mourn for the past. After shaking up our own taco pizza tradition, we strung the outdoor lights and grilled the prime rib. I made my mother’s whipped sweet potatoes and we watched “Christmas Vacation” on a different night with our Thanksgiving meal.
I was able to be thankful without being sad. It just took me a day or so. Maybe next year that full on magic will return again. .
Have you established new holiday traditions? If you spend the holidays now alone or just with your spouse or S.O., how did you establish new traditions?