This Thanksgiving, is the first Thanksgiving that I’m actually freely choosing how I want to spend the holiday and doing it. It’s been a long road to get here, 49 years. For most of my life I didn’t think about it much, or at all. I just did what I had always done, never considering what I really wanted to do. The past couple of years, I broke away from my tradition of having Thanksgiving with the family I grew up in and had it with friends instead. And this was nice, and I would do it again. But it was in keeping with the same tradition I grew up with.
This year, when Jon and I talked about how we wanted to spend Thanksgiving, it was different. I didn’t feel bound to any tradition. I didn’t feel guilty (well, maybe just for fleeting moments) about not spending it with the family I grew up in. I just thought about how I, without the baggage of past years and other people’s ideas about the Thanksgiving, would really like to spend the day.
My first thought was to stay home and just take the day off, be with Jon and have a nice dinner, not necessarily turkey. But that was just an antidote to the holiday, not something I really wanted to do. My next thought was to go to our favorite Inn in Vermont. But I didn’t even get a chance to say it out loud when Jon suggested the same thing. And when I heard the words, I knew there was nothing else I’d rather do.
A big part of Thanksgiving is family. It’s the most traveled day of the year in the United States, people driving and flying miles to be with family. But for me when I think of the holidays and family, I feel a loneliness that I’ve known my whole life. A loneliness that I thought was normal, until I met Jon.
Even though I was married to my first husband when I was 22, since I never had children, I never saw myself as having a family other than the one I grew up in and the one I married into to. I never considered the idea that just two people, like a wife and her husband could be a family. So when people said things like, “my family comes first” or “spending time with family”, I always thought it was about other people, not me and my husband.
But I’m just realizing, for the first time, that Jon is my family. And I want us to have our own traditions, the traditions we choose. So I’m spending this Thanksgiving with my family. We’re doing something new, something neither of us has done before and something we both choose to do. Something that makes me smile when I think about it, something that makes me feel grateful that I’m able to do it. Something me and my family love to do.