What makes the Holidays so hard and painful is the reality that your family is not whole. A reminder that distance, whether physical or emotional is keeping loved ones away.
With all the humdrum of Thanksgiving and giving thanks for all that is good in our lives, I wonder if giving thanks for “the not so good” would be just as acceptable.
What if we sat around the table and said, “I’m thankful that our family is not together this Thanksgiving. I’m thankful they are happy and blessed. I wish them all the best in life.” “I’m thankful for the pain and hurt that is in my life. Thankful that the pain will teach me to be kinder and the hurt to help me be more compassionate.” Sounds absurd doesn’t it? Or does it?
Every Holiday in my life has always seemed to be faced with this dilemma.
When families grow, there seems to be a crisis of which household do we attend the festivities? How do we decide without hurting the other household? When families break a part, how do we split the time with the children? When families move far away, how do we deal with the empty seat at the table? When families become estranged, how do we reach out and when will forgiveness finally be given to move on? And of course how do we celebrate if we are mourning a loss?
Life is conundrum when it comes to relationships and this ideal that the Holidays are suppose to be a time of family sitting around the table actually enjoying each other’s company. What we need to remember is this idea is FAKE! I think the reason we hurt more during the Holidays is the lie we tell ourselves that EVERY body and their Grandmother is having a Norman Rockwell, picture perfect Holiday, while our time with our families is dysfunctional to say the least.
If we are hurting, we probably wish we could skip the Holidays or keep them from coming at all, but we know we can’t. We learned that lesson from “The Grinch.” The Holidays have no mercy!
Whatever your situation, try and be thankful anyway. I know…I know…it’s bullshit! We have every right to be angry and resentful. We have every right to feel sorry for ourselves. We have every right to wish and hope that one day the Holidays will manifest our desire to have one big happy family. You’re right of course, but is it worth it? Is it worth holding on to something that we have no control over?
Give it a try- Be thankful in ALL circumstances, even if your feelings don’t match what you are saying. Even if it feels weird and awkward. You will be amazed the difference it will make in your life, your heart and your soul.
Here is mine–I’m thankful for all you- the ones who read my blog and have given me positive feedback. I’m thankful for the friendships I have developed in the last few years, they have been such a blessing in our year of challenges. I am thankful for my family- even the ones who have chosen to leave us out of their life. I’m thankful for my career and the opportunity to work with kids even though it can be one of the most difficult careers on the planet, and my co-workers who care so much. I’m thankful for the job loss Dan had this year- it brought us closer together and taught us the value of what really matters- a welcoming home full of love, laughter, joy, tears, hugs, arguments that gave us perspective, and of course beer and wine. I’m thankful for my children. They are healthy, happy, and pursuing their dreams. I’m thankful for the hard times we went through because it gave us a bond that is unbreakable.
Just writing that one paragraph filled my heart with so much joy- I really think you should try it.