Holidays tend to promise warmth, comfort food and togetherness as the main attraction, but I’m pretty sure the sideshow Anxiety likes to tag along unannounced every time. Tucked into Anxiety’s pockets are surprises like, “Toddler Tantrum on the MainStage”, “Surprise appearance by Ignorant Relative with Addiction Issues” with “Awkward Interactions Galore” as the soundtrack. I tend to be tentatively excited about the holidays- driven mostly by my own unnecessary anxiety about cleaning baseboards, hiding the socks the dog incessantly carries and drops throughout the house and whether or not the box I shoved in the coat closet at the last minute will fall off the shelf and reveal my not-so-secret messy tendencies.
Oh, and I worry about relatives. I no longer worry whether my father-in-law will wear a slick pink, purple and turquoise tracksuit (without a t-shirt underneath) to dinner like he did to our wedding rehearsal dinner. What he wears is insignificant now (although still amusing on occasion). I worry more now that he and the others make it here safely. 2 Christmases ago, my dad was in the hospital because his heart decided to reprogram the cadence of his own heartbeat. Last Christmas, my husband had just gotten out of the hospital after a surprise bout with a weird infection in his leg, sepsis and subsequent kidney failure. Christmas day- and the next three months- were spent pushing meds into his IV 3x a day as he slowly regained strength. My mom has been the amazing constant caregiver and helper- picking up and taking care of kids while I tried to keep the dudes healthy. Thankfully they’re all healthy now.
I realize that holidays are complex. Empty seats at the Thanksgiving table are reminders of loved ones no longer here to participate. Grief is dragged to the forefront and sometimes tensions run high. I messaged a police officer friend a “Happy Thanksgiving!” text yesterday and asked how he was. He replied he was typing up a domestic dispute report- that, “some people can’t behave for even one day”.
But, while it’s Thanksgiving, it’s also just a day after a regular Wednesday. Everything that happens throughout the week isn’t always put on hold. While it’s good to be thankful, it’s also okay to realize the realities of life. It doesn’t have to be a day of Level 10 Spongebob Happy Ignorance. I think what makes the day special– and all others for that matter– is the little moments that provide sweetness. Watching my kids and friends put lights on the tree. Discovering a chalk turkey on the sidewalk that my 7 year old drew that morning. Realizing my husband made frozen lemon vodka chill (hey, I am *so* thankful for that lemony slush)- a tradition I’d forgotten– probably because of too much lemon vodka chill in the past.
Balance. Sometimes it’s not that it’s overflowing on a day like Thanksgiving– it’s that it all evens out. This year, we gathered with family and friends and had a really nice meal together. The pause of that amidst the rush of the rest of the year was nice.
I’m thankful, and grateful, for those little moments. Today I have a mountain of them in front of me as I realize how lucky I am to have you. Whether you’re family, friend or simply a customer at this point, I’m thankful for the connection that brought you here, and to my life. I hope that you’ll pause and take care of yourself during these holidays… that your snapshots of clarity and happiness outweigh the difficult ones and that whatever your “lemon vodka chill” moment of excitement may be, that you have many of them.