I'll be honest. I've been working on a post about Thanksgiving for two weeks.
As many find around the holidays, I have a tough time this time of year. Fortunately for me, it's not because I was raised in an abusive home. I've not battled drug or alcohol abuse, but it was headed home for Thanksgiving break from college my junior year that the holidays took a turn for me. And for my mom. And a friend who's a sister.
We were in a horrific car accident. An accident I was driving in. An accident I walked away from with a cut on my finger, but my sister was taken by ambulance to one hospital and my mom by helicopter to another. Now when I think of Thanksgiving those are the memories that cross my mind. Not thoughts of J, C, N, S, K, N and our parents and grandparents, but having to call my dad and B's mom and my brothers and... and... and.
I'm so grateful that neither B nor Mom remember that night. I'm glad Mom doesn't remember much of the weeks afterwards. But me? I remember almost all of it. I remember I got a cut on my finger while my mother was fighting for her life. As a result? I've not spent a single Thanksgiving with my family since 2005.
I've volunteered to work. I've been "conveniently" invited to spend the holiday with my friends' families. I've, in short, done everything humanly possible to avoid Thanksgiving with my family.
This is all while acknowledging, with immense gratitude, how lucky I am. Because my parents, my brothers, my sisters-in-law, while I've never explicitly said all this to them, seem to intuitively "get it." Just another way I'm lucky.
But there are so many who aren't so lucky. Their families aren't there in any way -- physically or emotionally. They've never been surrounded by love and laughter. They've never had someone spend 10 hours creating a feast fit for a proverbial king. These people may not have the words or the platform to say, "Back off. I need to be alone."
So please remember. American media may portray the holidays as a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, but for millions such is not the case. The material means aren't there to cook the meal or buy the presents. The family and friends may not be there to cook the meal or buy the presents for. The memories of the awful drown out the possibility of anything more.
Please respect the boundaries your loved ones, coworkers and acquaintances are putting forth. In a time already filled with so many stressors, do any of us really need more?