How was your Thanksgiving? What came up for you?
For me, Thanksgiving is a loaded time. Loaded with emotions, memories, expectations, and trying with every cell in my body to accept the nowadays version of Thanksgiving. When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. It was a time when I gathered with my Arizona family to play in a Turkey Bowl (flag football game), sit around a big table to eat, talk and laugh with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and to make gingerbread houses. What I enjoyed most was all the festive energy, laughter, and time spent with my family.
Once I moved out of state and then across the country it became harder and harder to make it home for Thanksgiving. Over the last few years, I have felt anger, sadness, and disappointment that the Thanksgiving of my childhood is no longer. I feel like I have been grieving a loss. And because of that I have found it incredibly difficult to accept new traditions or ways of going about the holiday. I've also found it hard to create my own traditions. I just feel stuck in this area of my life. Each year gets a bit easier but still I am sad and feel a bit lonely on this holiday, even though I am with my daughter, husband, and my husband's family.
This Thanksgiving I decided to approach the holiday with acceptance and appreciation...or at least TRY to do that. I woke up feeling good but then proceeded to be short with my husband (because he was leisurely drinking his coffee on the couch ) and impatient with my daughter. I moved about the house at lightning speed, couldn't sit still for more than a few minutes and felt uncomfortable in my body.
I tried meditating and journaling and when that didn't help I did a dance class and when that didn't help, I sat on the couch and watched TV with my daughter.
Then I begrudgingly got up and made green been casserole.
I finally acknowledged to myself that I was feeling anxious and sad. Once I named what I was feeling, I felt a sense of relief.
"I am feeling this way for a reason."
I put on some music and started trimming green beans. I thought about what really mattered to me about the holiday - and all holidays. I came up with that I deeply appreciate spaces where joy, comfort and safety abound. Where magic and possibility live. Those are the spaces I want to create and live in. And that's what I want to create for my family on this holiday and every holiday.
I realized that I have been waiting for someone else to put the puzzles pieces together and create what I wanted and needed. I wasn't doing the work myself.
I was seriously just waiting around for someone else to say, "Hey, you seem anxious and sad. That's because you miss how your family did Thanksgiving and now carry expectations that every Thanksgiving should look like one from your childhood. And when the holiday doesn't stand up to your expectations or your memories, you freak out. Here's what you should do instead..."
Ugh, that would have been so much easier if someone else would have named AND fixed the problem for me, right?! Nah, the freedom actually comes when we liberate ourselves.
So that's where I am now. I am looking at my expectations, I'm enjoying my memories, and I am creating a new path.
Since Thanksgiving is now over, I am looking ahead to Christmas and asking myself as well as my husband and daughter about how we want to approach this next holiday and what traditions we want to keep, let go of or create.
I already feel freer.
What are your expectations around the holiday season? What are you waiting for someone else to figure out for you? And how can you liberate yourself?
We are in this together.
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This is the beginning of something truly wonderful.
I am so glad you are here.