One thing that is different this year is I'm finding myself looking forward to Thanksgiving again.
I don't think I fully realized it, but I've been slowly withdrawing from T'giving for several years; perhaps even going back as far as 1996, which is th' first year that my childhood traditions changed. From as far back as I can remember up until '96 I'd always traveled to Grandma's house for T'giving, it was as regular as breathing. I might even go so far as to say this was something like my own Green Lantern power lantern: to NOT return there annually would be to loose a significant part of who and what I was and weaken me as a person. So, when mom died in 1996 and my family basically ignored me and ceased to involve me in anything, I began to feel like something was missing. This kept building and building until last year when I would've rather spent th' whole day in bed with th' blankets o'er my head sleeping through th' day than anything else. T'givin' had become a kind of endurance test, something to just get through and not something to enjoy. I think we wound up going out to a Chinese buffet last year.
This year it feels a little different. There is still that feeling of loss and of you-can't-go-home-again that I've been feeling for literally 21 years now, but I'm not sure that will EVER go away; it may not be POSSIBLE for it to go away, it might be like loosing a bit of your very soul-- th' wound will heal, but will always ache and th' scar will remind you there was something here that is no longer. You will have to learn to dream a new dream.
I'm put in mind of a piece of writing Jenny did on her blog:
Husband 1 mourned every Christmas since the one before our eldest was born. His dearly departed father’s birthday was Christmas Day and his mother passed around Christmas not two years after his father. While I bargain hunted for toys, spent hours hiding in the basement wrapping presents, and committed the last of my resources to manufacturing magic, he wept, drank and sat in the garage, playing video games. And from that same garage, he fetched me a gift on Christmas morning, after all the presents were opened and I noticed there was nothing with my name on it. It was an electric can opener, wrapped in aluminum foil. I wanted a divorce.
Later that year, he attempted suicide after I asked for a divorce and he instead broke his femur, unable to work for six months. We lost the house and went bankrupt. I postponed the divorce for four more years to care for him, shocked that he would try to take his own kids’ father away, he who is so lost without his own. He was ultimately successful, after my second request for a divorce. Rest in peace.
...I spent last Saturday at a Halloween party at our dear friend’s house where he spent the last few months of his life. I stood on the porch that overlooked the woods where he hung himself. I shared drinks with his sister.
“If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.”
I remember this proverb when I’m feeling low. It pulled me through all those dark winters to here. It kept bitterness from utterly consuming me. It let me love again, wed again. And I recall it now, as I shake the fog from around my head. I can lay the cloak of doom down over so many puddles of tears, so that I may cross into the next season.
I knew her 1st husband well, and though it makes me uncomfortable to recall th’ ☧mas she speaks of in 2010, I remember it. Doc’s sorrow and his tendency to fall apart at th’ Most Festive Season of th’ Year was hard for ME to ignore and I wasn’t even married to him; I'm sure it was much worse for her. I began to wonder if perhaps *I* had been doing that same thing myself: certainly E-- doesn't want a divorce from me 'cuz i gave her a can opener, but there's enough incompatibility there that it's only a hop, skip and jump from th' problems that Djenni and Doc had to th' ones that we had. I began to realize that I was no doubt contributing to th' melancholy by being such a sad sack on T'giving. Both Doc and I were / are prone to mourning our lost families, but whereas Doc suffered from alcoholism and possibly bipolar disorder and is no longer in this mortal world, I AM here, alive and dreaming, and I am a still-somewhat-newly-minted Franciscan novice, and as such, God has called me to seek joy and turn away from despair. I can't help but wonder if Doc was able to hang on just a few more years if my stepping out and onto a Franciscan path might have helped him in some way.
I believe it was th' day after I read Djenni's words that E-- told me that come snow or hi water, regardless of what status OUR relationship was in (or NØT in, as th' case may be) she was going to have a good ol' fashioned T'giving and no more of this Chinese Buffet BS. Having read Jenny's words and recalling one of th' final T'givings Doc was to have with us all, I decided E-- was right; time to count blessings and not sorrows. Time to make sure that th' green bough in my heart was still green and growing for th' singing bird to find and perch upon. This is nothing less than Francis would want us all to do.
I imagine it will not be easy. at Thanksgiving we become a Nation of Two, there being no place for us to go, no one having invited us to their place and I'm not sure we'd want to go anyway-- it would no doubt feel akward. E-- likes to do all th' cooking which means i can help most by staying th' hell out of th' way; maybe I'll go out and rake leaves. My mind will still be playing old home movies and I'll bee seeing ghosts as I have been for th' last 2 decades, but I think I can begin to drum up a little happiness this year.