Life is ever changing, forcing us from the comforts of yesterday’s that we may grow and change with it, transitioning into new stages.
All of my adult life, I have been in charge of creating the holiday magic that others would enjoy. Wanting to be a good steward of the things awarded me, it was my nature to place undue stress upon myself. Mix that with inklings of a type A personality and my anxiety rose to OCD levels of nook and cranny cleaning, intricate decorating, detailed menus, with an exact plan for precise orchestration of all! Can you say “control freak”? Indeed, I ruled my realm with an iron skillet!
Oh! And God forbid if anyone were to help! I made it impossible for my family who could not hope to reach my level of imposed perfection. Even at christmas, the children would decorate the tree, then after they had gone to bed, I would re-work it to perfect symmetry and balance. And, guests were never permitted to help, even during cleanup.
The guilt I would feel if I were to employ a guest during their holiday would overwhelm me and let’s be honest, for them having to guess where I kept things and me spending weeks locating where they’d put things away, would’ve caused undue stress on each of us. It was just easier to do everything myself and allow others to simply enjoy themselves.
In the end, I rendered very little celebration from holidays being the master of ceremonies instead of a participant. I rather consoled myself with the Joy’s of accomplishment and the enjoyment of those I love. Exhausted and in tethers, I was content with their bright faces, lively chatter, the laughter gathered at my table and afterwards, a long nap.
One of our kids shared this on FB some years ago, captioning it as me during holidays and re-share it every year. I had to laugh in spite of myself as it captures me perfectly.
But life is ever changing and we find ourselves with an empty nest as our children have grown, having homes and families of their own. It was a difficult adjustment. Holidays became hollow and lifeless, bereft of joy. I no longer knew what to do with myself in the absence of purpose.
The last two years since we retired and moved to the lake, we’ve eaten Thanksgiving out. The first year, the food was horrible! Last year, the food was good but eating out has an obvious downfall….no leftovers!!! No second helpings after a nap, no afternoon dessert, no midnight turkey sandwiches!
We are changing with time, learning to embrace this new stage in life and each other in new ways. This year, we cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in our home since we moved here. Clay and I discussed a modified, much smaller menu to accommodate the two of us alone and what it should consist of but when we went shopping, things began to go awry. He began talking about different ways to cook the turkey and I began to feel annoyed.
Formerly , our individual roles and areas of contribution to our home and lives were clearly defined. His was his career, providing for the family and few “manly chores” around the farm. The management of the farm and economics of the home were clearly mine and we both had enough on our plates to be interested in infringing upon the others area of management. But, now he is retired, in my lane and we are both feeling displaced.
As I began to chafe under the feelings of an invader encroaching upon my territory, something in the way he looked sparked an odd thought….a realization. He didn’t want me to provide him Thanksgiving. He wanted to participate in it with me and not be merely a recipient- to be a part of it, not apart from it! I realized too, that I must change. I no longer need to carry it all alone. I can embrace this new stage of life and enjoy it, having and being a partner in all our areas of life. And, I think I loved him even more for it.
We entered the kitchen this morning with excitement and I with an unfamiliar sense of ease. He took on the turkey and ham while I made the dressing, green bean casserole and deviled eggs. He even diced the onions and celery for me. Cooking together became part of the festivities and for the first time in many years, I felt included in the celebration!
We have so much to be thankful for this year. Among our blessings are the times we’ve spent with family here at the lake, all the days we’ve had to enjoy with our grandchildren, two sons married, the birth of another grandson and the acquiring of a new granddaughter. Gratefully, all our family are here to celebrate another year. We have been rich in joys…. poor in sorrows. They say that to make a house feel like a home, you have to celebrate in it. Today, it felt like home for the first time.
A Blessing for you…
On this Thanksgiving day, we recall the journey of our year, the highs, lows and tally up the blessings and joys. We pause to remind ourselves and each other of blessings big and those taken for granted and center our hearts on gratitude.
We’ve had our difficulties this year, certainly, but our joys outweigh and eclipse the hardships faced and sustained us through them all. We have so much to be thankful for this year and we look forward with hope for those to come.
On this day of tallied blessings, may you find yours innumerable.
Wishing you & yours, joys overflowing in the year to come.
Happy Thanksgiving, my cherished family and dear friends! I count you each among my blessings and am so grateful for you all.
With love & gratitude always,