Thankful for Thanksgiving’s End

Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. I’m all for taking time to give thanks for that which we are grateful, but shouldn’t we be doing that every day?

Instead, this holiday just seems like a lot of work for just one short day (as opposed to Christmas, which really seems to last for a whole month). And as a day that is all about the meal, it’s not a good time for someone who loves food and yet regrets every bite she eats. I spent most of my adolescence weighing fifty pounds more than I do now and, while I have never gained that weight back in the ten years since I lost it (not including during my pregnancy), I will never stop worrying about, fearing it, and feeling guilty for the calories I consume.

I once loved Thanksgiving, and every other holiday. As a kid, we always spent it with my mom’s family, and my grandparents’ home was filled with food, and games, and laughter, and a lot of people. But then things started to change. My grandma died. And my uncle. And my grandpa. And my cousin. My family dwindled and those of who were left kind of grew apart (and some of us even turned on each other).  Our glue that held us together was gone. And so now Thanksgiving (and Christmas, for that matter) is a sad, quiet holiday and, even though I have a child of my own now and even if I am so lucky to some day be able to fill our home with multiple children, it will never be the same.

And this year, for the first time since my freshman year of college at USF eleven years ago, I spent the holiday away from my own immediate family. That’s because, this year, we went to the in-laws, a six hour drive away (a six hour drive, I will tell you, that became a TEN hour drive, thanks to traffic). It was time, because we have never spent a holiday with them in the seven years that I have been with my husband, but it was strange and different and not something we plan to do often (thankfully, Honey is more than okay with this).

My in-laws, while very nice people with good intentions, are the kind of folks that one can only take in small doses. Especially my mother-in-law (Honey’s stepmom). She means well, but she’s high strung and much too strict with my daughter and she lacks the flexibility that house guests sometimes require. I think we disappointed her a little because much of the food she made for Thanksgiving (she insisted on doing all the cooking) was not something we could eat. I don’t eat red meat, and yet the stuffing (which is normally my favorite Thanksgiving dish) had sausage. My honey doesn’t eat mushrooms, nuts, or olives, so the stuffing, jello salad, and stuffed olives were out for him. And my daughter is nut- and dairy-free at this point, which basically excluded everything at the table except the turkey.  We did not mean to be difficult, but if she had asked for my input, I could have advised her on what we can and cannot have. And this was only one of the problems we encountered during our short stay with them!

My MIL did ask me how I was doing (in reference to our miscarriage), which was a surprise since she has not inquired about any such thing since we broke the news to them about our loss in April. She saw my necklace and inquired about it and when I told her the meaning, she then went on to ask how I am. She gave me a hug and told me she can’t understand what it’s like, but that she feels for me. She also said she hasn’t asked before because she doesn’t want to bring up all the sad feelings. Which is the same thing my sis has told me and, if I could, I would tell them both that they are doing me no service by pretending nothing has happened. The sadness is always there. I have not forgotten about my loss or my infertility. Mentioning it does not make it worse, it shows you care. That’s what I would say, if I needed their support, but I have realized now I really don’t. I have you guys. And that’s enough.

So that’s the story of my pitiful Thanksgiving. What about you? Any good in-laws anecdotes you’d like to share?

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9 thoughts on “Thankful for Thanksgiving’s End

  1. When we lost our baby in 2010 many people just disappeared off our radar. Some people took me aside privately and said they had been there and that they were sorry or that they didn’t have words to say but were thinking of me. The others, some close close friends, disappeared. I posted a story on Facebook about Bethany frankel, yes the real house wife/skinny girl, discussing her miscarriage and I got a flood of people saying they didn’t know what to say to me and thus said nothing. It occurred to me that people who have not experienced it themselves have no concept nor does society have an etiquette about miscarriages because no one talks about them. I told the friends that disappeared the best way to comfort me was to talk about it more and make it main stream. There is no reason this should be taboo or off limits. It happens far too often and when it happens to you for the first time you feel as if you are the only person in the world that is going through it… And your are not. So for the people who have shrunk away from you, tell them it’s okay to not know what to say but saying nothing is far worse then saying something silly and that you rather raise awareness then keep this In the closet.

  2. My in laws only know about our first miscarriage. Their response to that one was not particularly caring. MIL told me it was probably for the best since there was probably something wrong with the baby while FIL refused to acknowledge that we had lost a real baby. After that, I didn’t tell them about the next three and I swore K to secrecy.

    I’m glad your mother in law asked about you though! It’s always nice when someone cares enough to at least talk about it.

  3. I’m sorry the holidays are so rough. At least your MIL asked how you were doing, though. That’s progress. I agree that sometimes people need you to tell them how to best support you, whether that’s checking in every once in a while or being there to listen when you call. I hope the rest of the holiday season will go easy on you.

  4. I had a rather pathetic Thanksgiving myself too. For the first time in my 34 years, I spent the holiday without any family whatsoever – except for my hubby. It was just the two of us. My dad lives 10 hours away so we weren’t able to visit him, and the hubby’s parents told us rather last minute that they were going to visit hubby’s sister 5 – 6 hours away. And since I have been feeling so miserably nauseated, hubby did all the cooking for our quiet Thanksgiving together (including a 16 lb turkey!). And yes, we have lots and lots of leftovers.

    • Oh, sams, I’m so sorry that you were without any family for the holiday. I hope you realize, though, that you spent it with the most important people of all — your hubs and that little baby growing inside of you. And l do love me some Thanksgiving leftovers! Hope you’re feeling good enough to enjoy some of them.

  5. Sorry your T-day wasn’t the best this year. In-laws can be difficult. We drove about 3 1/2 hours to our dinner which was my husband’s family. It was pretty uneventful, thankfully other than a few people commenting on my “large” size and wondering why I had not updated FB with my news. If only they knew what our past year and a half had been like. Hang in there, girlie. We are here for you and totally get where you are coming from. The sadness never goes away, unfortunately, but I think it really does help to talk about it with people who care. Hugs.

  6. I’m new to your blog and I don’t have any MIL stories to share. But I am totally with you on celebrating Thanksgiving’s end. I used to have the big family gatherings as well, but now everyone has splintered into their own families. Definitely makes the holidays feel different. Add a pregnancy loss in, and it’s just hard.

    • Thanks for stopping by and for the support. The holidays can be so hard, you’re right. The only thing that gets me through is knowing the start of a new year — and hopefully a new beginning — is just around the corner.

  7. After my 1st loss I learned that less is never more. I’m sorry these holidays are hard for you. I wish I could wrap you in my arms, squeeze, and not let go. You are right, you always have us.

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