There are songs, there are commercials, movies...
All of which tell me that this time of the year is the best. It is filled with kindness, heart warming family time, thoughtful gifts, shared meals, cheer, and fun activities.
Usually I agree, but more and more as the years go by, I am not certain.
You see, growing up, my family was the family that got kicked out of my grandparents house on Thanksgiving day. My family was the family that always got in fights. My family is the family that has the troubled older brother that causes anguish for everyone, when we should be hugging by the tree.
Luckily, I had people in my life like my Aunt Jeri and the Richey's. My Aunt Jeri took us in when we got kicked out and the Richey's took me in when my mom worked on the holidays. I don't think they know how much this has meant to me. As the years went on, we got invited over less and less, which is just how things happen to go. I went off to college and my mom moved, but we still lived near.
This has left just me and my mom. This is sad to me. My grandma passed away 2 and a half years ago and she was always willing to meet up, if just for a little bit. Now that she is gone, my grandpa doesn't want to go anywhere. This year he decided to leave the house, but he won't be joining me and my mom. No, he'll be going on a cruise with some woman that none of us know. My brother is always in jail and is really a hard person to get along with, so count him out.
My Uncle never leaves LA and when he got re-married in the late 90's he converted to Judaism. So, he is out for Christmas, but hey Thanksgiving is still a perfectly suitable holiday for all religions, is it not? Just before my grandma passed, my uncle and his family joined us twice. It was really nice. I enjoyed seeing everyone. We ate food, we laughed, we sang karaoke. It was grand! I love times like this and I will remember them always.
Because my mom, a nurse always worked on Thanksgiving, we started a tradition of inviting friends over the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We did this so that we could share the holiday with the people that we really like and love... our friends... those that mean the most to us. We would plan a menu and make a great evening out of it. Fewer and fewer people have been coming and this year, no one has responded to my invitation at all. I was never sad about missing actual Thanksgiving, because I knew we would be making it up a couple of days later.
Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for everything that I have. I am educated, I have a career, I am able to pay my bills on time, I have a place to live and I am able to buy food. I am also thankful for the handful of amazing friends that I have. I cherish the time that we get to spend together...
Now listen, I don't want pity. I guess my reason for writing this is to understand that while we often focus our attention to those in need (homeless, foodless, etc.), during the holidays, it would be nice to also remember those who do have a home and food, but are left wanting in another way... family.
We all desire a human connection this time of the year and that is what makes it perhaps that saddest part of the year and not the best. Never stop giving compassion to those in need, but make some room in your heart and home for those who need a surrogate family. I know we all get busy and have our own things to worry about and get done, but friends, for goodness sake open your eyes and perhaps take the time to invite someone to your house to celebrate!
You will probably argue that my mom should be enough and I enough for my mom and you are right. I am glad that she is alive and is someone that I can connect with on a daily basis, but sometimes it just doesn't feel like we are cared for. Perhaps that is what it comes down to, our friends say they love us, they say they think about us, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty... are they there for us? It is great to have friends around when all is well and peachy keen, but it is better to have them around when you are feeling down in the dumps and a little left out.
On a more positive note, I do know that my friends truly do care about me and when it comes down to brass tacks, they would do anything for me and I for them. (I realize that I probably sound a bit off my rocker, pondering if my friends care for me and then declaring that they do moments later, but sometimes thoughts don't make any sense.) So, it is with this at the moment sad heart that I know all will be alright and that all will be well and that I shall enjoy the family I do have and the time I get to spend with them, even if it is made up solely of my mom.
Just something to think about as you plan out your Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas.
After writing this post, I feel better. I just needed to get it off of my mind and I am thankful for this avenue in which I can do so. I also realize that in times like these it is in my best interest to rely more heavily on God. I am just a stubborn person and always try to do things on my own.