Making the Holidays Mine

finding her own way 2

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.

25 thoughts on “Making the Holidays Mine

  1. Wishing you a beautiful Thanksgiving and I’m so happy for you that the “right” way to celebrate came to you and Jon together.
    I proposed a similar plan to my darling regarding Christmas, and he heartily agreed. We’ve made arrangements to celebrate with our children and grandchildren on another day when we can be more relaxed. They get to be home alone as a family to enjoy Christmas and we have what makes us happy, too. Took a long time to get strong enough to make this choice.
    Enjoy VT!

  2. Dear Maria, This is the perfect post !!!!! Love that you shared this idea and T-Day tradition thoughts.
    Have a wonderful, Easy, Fun, no pressure time. I have no doubt you & Jon will enjoy the time together.
    You have validated how I feel about T-Day and why one can embrace non-tradition without guilt. 🙂

  3. Maria, this sounds like a wonderful way to spend your Thanksgiving!! Enjoy your stay at the inn with Jon. Have a great holiday!

  4. BRAVO. I totally understand the concept of not-having-children means not-having-a-family. The person I choose to spend my life with is my family, and it took a long time to both find him and realize that. (Now if his family would understand it as well, now that would be something to really give thanks for!)

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving in the way YOU want to have it.

  5. I feel we share so many of our lifes experiences. I identify so intently with your feelings around the Holidays. I’m so happy for you this Thanksgiving. 🙂 Get out of Dodge! Take the man! Enjoy! Forget it all! In gratitude, Cindy

  6. Dearest Maria,
    Congratulations and best wishes for the lovely holiday you are surely going to experience.
    Love from Fran

  7. If this is an example of the front of your potholders and that delicious plaid below the reverse side … well, it looks like I will be back here Friday morning at 9:58 a.m. ready to shop! 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving.

  8. Maria, I wish you and Jon a warm and restorative Thanksgiving. Like you, I’ve traveled a long road from emptiness and loneliness to love, for the first time, at age 50. My husband and I will spend Thanksgiving together, just the two of us, as a loving, safe and warm family. May all four of us have many loving years ahead. We deserve that.

    Heidi

  9. Beautiful thoughts Maria. Family gatherings can become an obligation rather than a pleasure sometimes. You and Jon want to spend the day with each other rather than go somewhere that you would not feel particularly thankful to be. It’s a day for counting your blessings and for you and Jon that is each other. Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. I totally understand what you are saying. I was an only child until I was 24, didn’t get married until I was 34, have no children and always felt the same way about the holidays……until I met and married Jerry and realized that I had found my family in him. Thank you for sharing that Maria – I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who has felt this way. Hope you and Jon have a wonderful time at the Inn.

  11. My second husband, the love of my life, and I spent many holidays in the 17 years we had together with just the two of us as family. It was wonderful. He passed away a few years ago, and now, although I have one sister left a few hours away, my holidays are often spent alone at the movies. I hope yours with Jon is cherished and never taken for granted. Ours weren’t.

  12. Maria this is so well said and it really makes you think about what you have to do vs what we want to do! I am so glad you are spending this holiday doing what you want to do! I hope you and Jon have a wonderful time at that inn! Blessings!

  13. Wishing you and Jon a very happy Thanksgiving spent YOUR way. Those are the best!

    Roger and I realized some time ago that the best Thanksgivings are the ones where we do what we really want and not what everyone else wants or expects. This year, I’m cooking and we’re hosting to Japanese students who attend college where I work/teach. It will be fun and simple and offer lots of “firsts” to these 2 students who are in the US for the very first time: first Thanksgiving, first encounter with snow, etc. A few years ago, we spent a week in NYC and saw the Macy’s Parade live (a first for both of us) and we dined on Thanksgiving night in a vegan restaurant in the West Village. I still can’t tell you what I ate, but it was delicious! We traipsed around Union Square and saw tons of movies. Best Thanksgiving ever…

  14. Happy Thanksgiving Maria! My most favorite Christmas was the Christmas a few years ago when we had a blizzard and my husband and I were forced to stay home. We thought we had to spend the day with our families- in Albany and then in Syracuse in one day. We stayed home, snowed it with our dog and cats. It was cozy, it was liberating, and it was our family Christmas. No baggage, just a lovely day with my best friend.

  15. I love the words you wrote. I often feel sad at holidays. But these words are helping me see the holidays in a different light. Have a great time and make your own tradition with Jon. Henrietta

  16. So beautiful, Maria!! All that loneliness for so long, I am so glad that you and Jon found each other. Annie

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