I used to love Thanksgiving.
I cooked my first Thanksgiving meal when I was twelve and from that year on I had some kind of large contribution to all Thanksgiving dinners that were to follow.
Some years I had over 50 people in my home. I loved it! People would rave over my food and my home and my general Martha Stewartness. I believed it too, but in hindsight it was as sugarcoated as the yams (which I hate).
Thanksgiving changed the first year of my separation, which was leading to my impending divorce. This is when it was decided that Thanksgiving would be the holiday that I would give up in return for every other celebratory day of the year. Yes, I realize that many co-parents have much harder circumstances with rotations, I just have to remember I don’t get Turkey day. It is still a hard adjustment to not be around the people who mean the most to you – your young children – on a day created for being grateful that is reserved for family even by (most) mass market stores.
The first year was the hardest, occupying myself on this day in a way that did not make me want to cry in the corner in a pile was interesting. I dressed up, cooked a million different things, and spent the day dinner hopping. The idea was if I kept moving (and this was the idea through most hard times in my life) that there would never be time to fall down and cry on the floor (all Izzy on Grey’s when Denny died style). I went and went and went and spent any brief moment I had occupying my sadness by texting a friend who was also in an awkward situation. I think I went to five different places that year and finished up eating a ton of desserts at my best friend’s house at the end of the night.
The next Thanksgiving was different – full of hope and promises. Meeting a boy’s parents for the first time. I cooked up my famous ham and wore a high cut sweater and crossed my fingers that they would like me (and wouldn’t ask too many questions that I didn’t have the answers to). They did like me and I liked them and the ham got rave reviews and there was not even one awkward question. I missed my girls – with an aching pit in my stomach -but I was still happy.
This year I am still deciding.
I thought about running away to New York or repeating last year’s plan – but circumstances do not really allow either. Then for a day, through some scheduling fluke, I thought I was going to get to keep my girls after all, and reverse panic set in. How do I make a last minute thanksgiving dinner for one adult and two children? I will not be figuring it out because the plans changed back.
So while everyone is posting about cooking their pies tonight I think back to a time when that was me. I see how different I am from that girl that I was. I do not have any pie in the works tonight. I do not have a long grocery list. A turkey and a ham is not taking up my whole freezer and that is okay. I am working on creating my own tradition, its evolving just like me…. Who knows what this year (or next year or the year after that) will bring.