It’s that time of year. The wind is howling, and there is a threat of snow in the air. Many are planing for the trip over the river and through the woods. If you are the lucky grandma, you most likely are buzzing around getting ready for your table full of family. But what if you are not?
In my world with four married children serving, I am lucky to get one home every once in a blue moon. Tickets during the holidays are expensive, and leave is even more precious. There is the normal sharing with inlaws that families deal with, and the combination of other factors including deployments means the Thanksgiving table surrounded by my family is not in the odds. It can be very depressing especially when well meaning folk ask you over and over if any of the kids will be home. What’s a mom to do?
I do engage in a pity party every once in a while to be honest. But then I get busy. I figure out what it is going to take to keep me out of the “sad panda” phase. Some years I have volunteered to serve Thanksgiving dinners, or gone on a long hike. This year I am having a relaxing Thanksgiving. I just bought a turkey breast, ordered a pie, and have stocked up on some craft projects I want to work on. I am pretending it is a snow day-you know when you have the gift of extra time and you can cuddle up without stress. We will eat when it is ready and not worry about a pile of dishes and getting up at 5 AM.
Do I miss those days? Of course I do. I miss the excitement of picking kids up at the airport and baking the special dishes that mean so much to them. But now home for them is with their own families and they already miss so much time together. I get great pleasure when I see them enjoy the holiday with each other as there have been way too many when they have been far apart. I treasure those memories of all of us together but I dig deep now to make it a new tradition. In the same way as Christmas approaches I search for my strategies to rise above and embrace the suck.
I am thinking now of all the families that are separated by service. We Americans can do a lot to help with the stress that entails. If you know of someone deployed, make an extra pie and drop it off. Offer to babysit so mom can go shopping, or shovel a sidewalk. Burdens are easier when they are shared-and every American benefits by our children’s sacrifices.
As you prepare for the holidays I hope you will be buoyed by the idea that you are not alone. There are other mothers who are missing those exhausting days when everyone was underfoot. We can use our maternal energies to create respite and demonstrate gratitude even as we sacrifice. Our children are heroes and we raised them, They got those guts and determination from someone. Dig deep and have a wonderful holiday even if it is quieter than it used to be. I am grateful for mommas like you who make this nation strong.
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving-Be Brave and Strong.