Soooo, so much for posting frequently? I had high hopes that I'd be able to update all the time...but that's just not how real, raw writing works for me. I started this very post at the end of October and could never seem to get the words just right. I started digging into my feelings surrounding the upcoming holiday, Thanksgiving- and picked it back up around New Years Eve, eventually finishing it in MARCH...oops. I like to re-read, edit and stew for a while...only then do I find that my ideas begin to come across accurately. Sooo... THIS POST SHOULD BE PHENOM, right?
Writers' block has been hanging around inside my head. I felt like anything I wrote after my initial post would fall flat. How to segway from a years' worth of dirty laundry into a "normal" life & style blog? And then so much time had passed...I wondered if I should just forget about the whole endeavor.
I was giving in to my doubts. Deep down in my soul, I would love to have that perfectly polished website with a million followers. A curated Instagram account of professionally shot photos... and a partnership with Fossil would be nice, too. The dream to be the most popular girl in school never truly dies, does it? But for all the perfect, shiny blogs I read...the gritty ones about real feelings and real life are the ones that stay lodged in my subconscious for years. So I'm trying to quiet my doubts. Maybe there is no normal way to segway from the first post, because I've decided to push past normal.
I have a quote in my apartment, from a 2010 Modern Love column. "She was on a mission to soak up the magic humming just beyond the ordinary..." It has always inspired me to push past "normal" on a quest to find something so much better.
This post is about my anxiety about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes that was months ago... oh well. The post is really about how change makes me feel blue...and that's always in season.
I obsessed over the holiday season this year- while at the same time trying my hardest to ignore it. My sister diligently tried to pin down dates and times, suggesting different relatives to visit from now (Thanksgiving) until New Years. And even though I know it annoys her- I waited until the last minute to commit to anything. It was hard to plan because I'm currently working three part-time jobs and my head started to spin when I attempted to coordinate time off... but there was something else holding me back. Something harder to explain.
I never understood why people hated the holidays. Of course it can be stressful to plan and shop and travel and be forced to hang out with distant relatives. But I love my family and I always looked forward to spending some time with them.
Now I get it.
The holidays used to serve as a gateway back to happy childhood memories for me. The magic of Christmas can never be replicated in adulthood, but the memories can certainly transport you to a simpler time. But when your family is fractured, the most wonderful time of the year is a reminder of how not-so-wonderful things really are. This year the buildup to Thanksgiving and Christmas felt like a race to "figure it out." I want to be happy during this time so I need to make new traditions and find joy in the little things- but mostly I can only obsess over how THINGS WILL NEVER BE HAPPY AGAIN. Everything we tried to plan felt so mediocre and meaningless. I kept thinking -if it's not like the old days, what's the point?
My family has done the exact same thing for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year for my entire life. One year while my sister was in college she went to Greece for a month and missed Christmas. I cried every day she was gone. This year we had decided to spend Turkey day with my sister's boyfriend and his parents - my dad and I opting to join in on her new holiday tradition.
And then my mom wanted us to visit her. And then my sister wanted to visit some family friends we haven't seen in years. And then my best friend moved to NYC and had to work on Thanksgiving day. I'd never really had to split my time during the holidays like his before- and I finally understood how disappointing it can feel.
Our plans changed at the last minute and I ended up spending Thanksgiving with just my sister and Dad at home. After all the years of squeezing in just enough folding chairs at tables lined up end-to-end, I worried that a meal for three might remind me of all that I was missing. Instead, I was able appreciate the day for the easy, relaxing time that it was, and focus on how lucky I am to have a family I get along with.
A few weeks later I ended up spending Christmas with my dad and his girlfriend at the time. Seeing him with her warmed my heart, but seeing him with her young kids made me feel like an intruder in my own life. I was, all at once, an adult and a jealous child. I didn't like watching my dad with these other kids - paying so much attention to them, loving them, being so invested in their lives. Instead of sitting around reminiscing with my family, I was watching my dad with a new one. Although this interaction was brief - it touched on those "things will never be the same" fears. The scene reminded me that I harbor resentment toward my dad for always being so busy when my sister and I were growing up, a fact I only admitted to myself in the last few years.
This is the kind of deep, depressing shit you start to unpack when your parents divorce after 30 years and everything changes. While in the moment it was painful- looking back a few months later now, I think the whole thing motivated me to try to LET GO of some of the crap I'm carrying around. I've let those resentments morph into insecurities, and I've let them wreak havoc on my relationships.
After I stopped being an emotional trainwreck I got to spend time with a friend from high school and her family, which turned out to be the bit of nostalgia that I needed.... an affirmation that things change, but sometimes at least feel the same. And then a few days later my sister and I took our yearly trip out to Albany to see my mom and her side of the family. It had been a few months since we'd seen my mom - and the weight of guilt and worry was lifted off my shoulders when we got there. The visit was enjoyably predictable - lots of eating, drinking, laughing, relaxing and story telling. I was enveloped by the warm familiarity of people I've known all my life, and mostly stopped resisting the good cheer all around me.
After all my anxiety about the holidays, nothing too bad ended up happening.
...except getting in a drunk text fight on NYE with a fuckboy and not speaking to him since. Some drama had to go down, right?
I can only hope that next year I won't build the holidays up into some big obstacle to overcome. I won't have it "all figured out" but it will be okay. I will try to see the holidays as a break from the day-to-day, and enjoy time off from work with friends and family. I will make new traditions and appreciate that my parents are still around. But also- I will be melancholy about the past and probably cry that my family will never be a perfect, Norman Rockwell painting. CHANGE IS HARD.