this time of year is always difficult for me. it has been for seventeen years. wow. seventeen years is how old i was when it all changed. my entire dynamic. everything i knew as normal, albeit somewhat dysfunctional - changed. it was my senior year in high school and i was here in syacuse visiting my dad for the holidays. he and my oldest brother had one heck of a blow out on new year's day. my dad died very unexpectedly the very next day. his health was poor, to begin with. but that is what i remember. a fight. and then my life changed. remarkably. even though my parents had been divorced at that point for a little over 10 years and i didn't see my dad often, i loved him. he was in my life. he helped me feel happy. he assured me everything was okay when i felt resentment from my brothers, or when they treatd me poorly. imagine the guilt my oldest brother must carry with him daily. he's an angry person. he always has been, he always will be. he is NOT a part of my life.
i have two brothers. i have lived most of my life thousands of miles away from them. after i got married, i felt a strong pull to be near them. so much so, my husband and i moved back here to be close to my family. as things turn out, i live across the street from one of my brothers. i have seen him once in the last 30 days. i live less than three miles from the other one and his family. i passed them on my street on halloween night and said hello. such a casual hello, you would have thought we were neighbors. not of the same genepool. my daughter does not know this brother, his wife, or their children. she looks at them like they are strangers. i tell this to people, friends, and they think i exxagerate. the truth is - i don't. not for an instant. it's the raw, God's honest truth. and to some - it seems sad. to me - it was.
i've learned something recently. you are given yor family. it's not a choice. however, you can CHOOSE who to BE a part of your family. genetic ties mean nothing. they're just that. genetic ties. i've grown to accept the fact - i will never support my family. they will never understand me. i am no longer going to force my husband to be a part of their lives. i am thankful i am finally old enough to see the truth in these people. the shallow, selfish truth. thankful that, though i share the same genes, i inherited a soul. a heart. compassion. feelings. something my brothers apparently did not get.
i'm thankful that i can mourn my dad, but be happy to know that i loved him - and i can have the courage to remember the happy times in lieu of the sad times... it's all i've got. i'm thankful, that i can love my mom in ways my brothers will never understand. thankful i hurt. thankful i cry. thankful i stand up for what i feel. thankful i have a good marriage to a man i can call my best friend. thankful his family accepts me for who i am, not what i can offer them.
so, this year - for the first time yet - since we've lived here, we have not received even one obligatory invite from my family for the holidays. not a mention as to what are we doing, do we have plans, would we like to join anyone. not a word. and for the first time ever, i am thankful. because i will not be forced to make up an excuse to decline the offer to join in on a store bought dinner in a box. to me - thanksgiving is about being together. family. being thankful. cooking! my most favorite part! tradition. i'm thankful.
we are staying home, once again, just the three of us. and i will still go all out, martha style. complete with the 22 pound turkey i just bought and everything from scratch but the mashed potatoes (i still haven't mastered potatos sans lumps!), homemade stuffing, apple pie, cranberry sauce, bread, sweet potatoes, salad - everything from scratch! i will spend about 12-14 hours total between baking, prepping, cooking, cleaning, enjoying my day. in my little 2x2 kitchen. with just my own lil family. we've invited on of hubby's friends who is having a rough time at home. i will extend the invite to some folks i know go out to eat on thanksgiving. and i will be completely and utterly happy.
so - this day starts the beginning of a tough period for me. i'm a mess right after christmas because of my pops. i miss him. i wish he knew my daughter. God - he would just adore her. so much so i can picture it some days. he would just love my husband. he would be proud. and this is the first year i can honestly say - i think my dad would support my feelings and my decision to stay home and not force the issue with my family. he would be here, with us. and he'd say something to me like... "who's better than you? who needs em!"
i'm thankful. for ron, for kennedy, for my Ma, my best friend joaney and her family, ron's family. i choose all of them. i'm thankful i've grown up enough to realize that it is ok.
what have you learned this year that you are thankful for?