Thursday, November 24, 2011


First holiday away from my children. Ugh. First holiday when I get to talk to other people about their first holidays away from their children. Not half bad.

I had some sad sad days leading up to today - Thanksgiving. Denial had managed to keep me from realizing up until last Saturday that I would not be with my children today. A HEAVY funk rolled in with that realization. A week full of tears and staring out of windows followed. Luckily, I am too scatter-brained or inherently chipper to do miserable 24-7. So each day had high points that were made all the better because of my low state.

Last night was the worst. I went to bed at 7:55 PM. I got up this morning at 9:30. I cried from 2:00 - 4:00 AM. But it worked. Thanksgiving is here. My kids are not. And I can do this thing.

Should you ever find yourself in this unenviable position - here's what I did that worked for me. Maybe a thing or two can work for you.

1) No moping around the kids. They are going to have a great day with their grandparents and dad as they always have on Thanksgiving. You only get to be a kid once.

2) Exercise. I hiked. I walked. I cycled. I did some tai chi. It didn't help much at the time but I am starting this day feeling kinda svelte. That will help after I lower my fork at the end of the second celebration.

3) Prepare for a funeral. A sweet young man died by accident and has left behind people who love him and miss him terribly. My job is to celebrate him on Sunday. Perspective, people. Perspective.

4) Prepare for a wedding. A sweet couple finds true love and understanding in their 50's. Perspective!

5) Inventory my sadness. What is it that makes me so upset? What is the expected duration of these things? Will I still be upset about them when I am 80 or even next week? Are they upsetting anyone else? Once they were all named they lost some of their power.

6) Dance. I am housesitting and by myself most of this week so this was particularly fun. Thank you Florence + the Machine, Fitz and the Tantrums, Walk the Moon, Tina Turner, and DJ Stephen McCarthy.

7) No TV. TV hasn't upset me this much since I was pregnant. I am one Hallmark commercial away from a breakdown.

8) Celebrate my parents. They had holidays without me starting in the early 80's. They are all alive and kicking. Their divorce led to two weddings and a LOT more family. They probably cried themselves to sleep on plenty of occasions missing me because they are those kind of folks. I ate with my dad twice this week and I played a board game with my mama and kids and those were GREAT times. Today I will eat their food and prepare almost none of it. WOW!

9) Lean on my friends for a change. I don't do this one well. When the going gets tough in my heart I disappear. But I tried this week. And the conversations with those who have walked down this road themselves were life-saving.

10) Gratitude. It's the name of the game today. I made lists of blessings. I took pictures of beautiful Fall leaves. I savored meals. I hugged the people I love. I was appreciative of crazy cats who jump on the cat sitter's shoulders and who all seem to be named Shirley. I enjoyed the great shower at this house. I prayed.

11) Laugh. The pendulum will swing back. I'd hate to look back on these days and see a humorless lump of me.

So that's me. Gotta bake some cookies and some sweet taters. I think one of the Shirley's just spit up in the kitchen. My kids are on the road to Grandparents' house. The Walk the Moon CD just ended and REM's latest and last CD is up next.

Oh, hey. I'm thankful for you. I hope you have a good day. And if you don't - it is still only 24 hours even if it is Thanksgiving. Try these:

Florence + The Machine (Just try to stay sad when this one plays.)

Fitz and the Tantrums (And not just because at the concert he pointed at me and called me "Nice girl" but that helps.)

Walk the Moon (A bunch of kids making 80's music in 2011. Ha!)


Anonymous said...

My Florence anthem right now is this one:

John A Arkansawyer said...

Here's what I have to offer you:

I don't guarantee it'll help--it's a melancholy holiday song beautifully done--but it's what I've got.

Jim Martin said...

Wishing you a great holiday weekend. We're celebrating on Saturday with a friend from Richmond, so we'll raise our glass to you!

Anonymous said...

The first Thanksgiving without them is hard. Two years ago was my first year without any family or children for Thanksgiving. I joined a dear friend, her husband and child, and another small family for the day and blinked back a few tears but found it really was okay. The anticipation of the day was far more difficult that the reality. Ah, another reminder that much of our angst is driven by the wanderings of our own minds.

Hope you ended those 25 hours with some peace.


Emy Morris said...

And now we're on "the day after". May today's blue shies chase away your blues, even though the chasing may be somewhat futile (like dusting) amid your current challenges. Who heals the healer? Who soothes the soul of the soother? May your jots help you as much as they help us, your dedicated readers.

Lara said...

Something happened to my first comment, but that's ok, it was probably too wordy anyway. :-)

It was my similar experiences ... which you can hear in person, any time you want to talk. In person over wine and dinner, any time you want to get away and come take a break up in King George, spending a few days being around people who've all been there. And who've found new love, and more family, and been ok. Our home is open to you whenever you need it.

kloppski said...

Yes, what Lara says, except for the location. :)

Been there, doing that, adapting to the changes and currents of life. Love to you, and thanks for sharing your valuable and helpful insights.