Every other year, I’m alone for the holidays. At first, spending the holidays without my kids was an adjustment. After all, holidays are meant to be spent with family. However, as the years have passed, I’ve come to enjoy the alone time when I can reflect on life and get things done. Don’t get me wrong, I still wish I could be with my kids, but it is what it is, and I’ve accepted it.
The first holiday I spent without the kids after the divorce, I went to my parents’ house in Georgia. What should have been a happy holiday, left me sad and empty inside. I hadn’t anticipated how hard it would be to watch other kids enjoying the holiday with their parents. I was miserable. I vowed never to spend another holiday with family (or friends) if it meant I couldn’t be with my own kids.
This year, I get to spend Thanksgiving with all of my kids because 2021 is an “odd year.” I also get to have two of my brothers and their families over (and my daughter’s roommate). I can’t wait to prepare the dishes and put the finishing touches on the turkey. But most of all, I’m just so excited to watch my kids laugh with each other and hang out together.
This year (and every year), I have so much to be grateful for. However, I’m not always good about expressing my gratitude. One November, years ago, we put up some butcher paper to cover the coat closet door so we could all write down what we were grateful for. This became our “Gratitude Door.” As the month progressed, we invited anyone and everyone to add their thoughts to the door. Pretty soon, it was full of words and expressions of gratitude. I loved the Gratitude Door and kept it up even after Thanksgiving as a reminder of all that we had to be grateful for.
Years ago, a friend shared this quote with me: “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” Last night, I remembered the quote and thanked God for all of the many things I was grateful for. It was a long prayer.
I thanked Him for my children and the happiness they bring to me. For the patience they have with me. I thanked Him for the good choices they were making and that I got to spend Thanksgiving with them.
I thanked Him for my parents and everything they’ve taught me. I thanked Him for the way they raised me and for their example. I thanked Him that they were still alive and that I could call them any time I needed.
I thanked Him for my friends and for the examples they are in my life. I thanked Him for the many times they have come to my rescue and cheered me up. I expressed my gratitude for everything they have done for me.
I thanked Him for my job and for the challenges it provides. I thanked Him for the smart and good people I get to work with. I expressed thanks for the ability to work remotely (permanently) and be at home if my son needs me.
I thanked Him for the freedoms I enjoy–for the ability to practice my religion. I thanked Him for the good men and women who serve our country and risk their lives to protect our freedoms. I thanked him for everyone who had ever died for our country.
I thanked Him for second chances. For the mercy that He and others continue to show me…for those who have given me the benefit of the doubt over the years–even when I didn’t deserve it.
I thanked Him for dreams and endless possibilities. For the chance to start over and reinvent myself. I thanked Him for all those who have cheered me on and had confidence in me when I didn’t have it for myself. I thanked Him for all the opportunities I had been given over the past seven years.
And yes, I thanked Him for the divorce…for the lessons it has taught me and for the compassion it’s given me for others. I thanked Him for how it’s stretched me in ways I never thought possible. I thanked Him for the growth I’d experienced (and continue to experience) so I could become a better person.
While I now spend half of my Thanksgivings alone, I’m grateful for the “odd years” when I’m reminded of how blessed I really am.