I always thought…used to think?…was conditioned to think?… (I’ll get back to that). At some point, and for a very long time, I was a black and white kind of person and had a fear of confusion that came with areas of gray so I made every effort to avoid it. Personally, professionally, emotionally, cognitively…
Whatever emotional riptide I am going through, the holiday season always seems to amplify it–if I’m happy and grateful I feel 100x more so and if I’m sad and lonely the same is true.
The most difficult holiday season I ever experienced was also the one that helped me realize how strong I was. It was my first Christmas as a single mom. My ex-husband and I had separated in May and we had done Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinner together at my mother’s house (like always) for the kids, but Christmas Eve where wrapping and assembling toys to go under the tree was now my responsibility alone and I had under estimated this task–not so much the wrapping, I loved that, but the assembling. I had a 3.5 year-old-boy and a 6 year-old-girl and when they get a present on Christmas from Santa, it’s not just a box in pretty paper. It’s put together so they can play with it right away. And Santa went to town this year. He got a pirate ship and an easel and some Barbie contraption–all “Assembly Required.” And while this probably isn’t an issue for an elf at the North Pole, as a newly single mom who just got fed another dose of reality at 11pm alone in my living room on Christmas Eve, it felt like my Everest.
Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. As a pre-teenager through my early twenties, I remember my mother and father hosting a couple dozen people in our formal dining room on the upper west side. It’s funny how specific memories may fade but flavors remain–ricotta and sausage stuffing (we’re Italian), antipasto salad, my mother’s apple pie and my aunt’s pumpkin chiffon pie.
I didn’t do a July 4th post… I tried, I couldn’t do it. I kept putting stuff together and bursting into tears, nothing felt right and I just couldn’t get into the spirit. July 4th we always celebrated my grandmothers birthday–her birthday was July 3rd. She started the tradition years ago with a lobster bake and my aunt has continued the tradition–a promise she made my grandmother before she passed away in 2008.
So this last Wednesday would have been my grandmothers birthday, and I can’t call her that… I never called her that. I called her Nanny. She was the best Nanny in the world. She was beautiful, she was effusive and she lived adventurously. She was proud of her family and she made you feel loved yet she also could give a kick in the ass when it was needed.
Father’s Day is a tough one for me. I’m torn. I can’t help but think of my Dad who is no longer here, but I’m also so blessed with a man in my life who is a loving husband and father to me and our children. But it’s more than that. My husband met us when I was newly divorced and my two children were three and five years, respectively. We were adjusting to a new life together and, personally, I was trying to find my way as a single mom, convinced that was what I needed to do…for myself and for my kids not wanting to make another mistake or “fail” again.
Valentines Day can be celebrated a number of different ways and it’s meaning and purpose changes as our lives and roles evolve. This does not diminish the significance, but it does change the context, so I thought I would share a few different approaches to Valentines Day that may spark some ideas, certainly, but mainly shows how Valentines Day has morphed over time and circumstance for me.
As I’ve mentioned a couple times here (feel free to eye roll or nudge anything with in reach with a ‘is she serious…a couple times?’), my husband and I are about to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. I think this milestone feels so miraculous because it was so unlikely. Our pairing was unlikely, I mean. At least initially (boy am I botching this up, huh?). Once it happened, it immediately felt meant to be and all the pieces fell into place, however, not without complexities. I was a divorced mom of two little ones, aged five (almost six) and three, he was newly committed to continuing education, a full-time student and embarking upon a new career. Oh, right…and he had been a life-long bachelor. To many in the outside world, these lives and lifestyles seemed disparate and “not for long.” Then a month, three months, six months passed and Hubby Man, as I affectionately call him here and everywhere, were still together and committed–or we probably should have been.