An Early Bird

The holidays can be emotionally loaded for everyone, but maybe a little more for divorced families.  It can be a painful reminder of what has been lost, who isn’t around the table, all of the changes and new schedules enacted. When I was going through my divorce, as I contemplated my future, someone said to me knowingly, “Three years from now your life is going to look completely different.”  I felt a stab of fear.  What would this new life look like?  I could scarcely imagine it, and I was especially concerned about how the changes would impact my young daughter.  There would be the daily changes to her routines and family life, not to mention the holidays, which she especially treasures.

Now more than three years later, our lives are indeed very different and it’s wonderfully different.  My daughter is thriving, ex-husband and I co-parent with ease, I adore his girlfriend and her children.  This year my daughter will officially celebrate Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day with her father, his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s family while I celebrate on a separate coast with dear friends.

So last weekend, more than two weeks before the official Thanksgiving, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my daughter, just the two of us.  Actually, there were three, because we consider our yellow Lab part of the family.  His job is to be underfoot, eagerly licking the floor for any stray food that may come his way.

While my daughter was at school I headed to the grocery store and bought an 11-pound fresh turkey plus everything else to make our traditional sides: mashed potatoes, yams with ginger and orange zest, brussels sprouts with pancetta, cranberry relish and stuffing with mushrooms and herbs.  As the smell of roasting turkey began to fill the house, I got excited to think that this will be the mouth-watering scent that greets my girl when she walks in the house after a long day at school.

This was the first year my daughter was able to fully help prepare dinner.  We played some music and talked as we cooked together. She sat at the table and prepped the brussels sprouts and peeled and chopped the apples for dessert.  I taught her how to make gravy.  There was no time pressure, no hungry guests to feed or entertain, it was low-key and relaxed.  It almost felt like we were getting way with something.

There are pros and cons to every situation and divorce is no different. I’m reminded of the Buddhist proverb –

“In each loss there is a gain, As in every gain there is a loss, And with each ending comes a new beginning.”

My daughter says that she’s come to enjoy having two of everything: two Thanksgivings, two Christmases, birthdays, double celebrations.

It’s not about a particular day on the calendar, it’s the spirit in the room.  Any day can be made into a holiday.  There was a fire in the fireplace, our beloved dog at our feet.  The turkey was dry but the gravy was tasty and my daughter’s brussels sprouts with bacon were to die for.

Here’s to new traditions, new faces around the table, double love, double thanks, embracing change.  Wishing you a beautiful Thanksgiving.