With Thanksgiving next week and Christmas approaching you can almost feel the excitement. Not just in the store decorations that seem to have jumped from pumpkins and candy, to turkey and stuffing, to stockings and Santa, all in a single week. But you can feel it in the air.
Everyone can’t wait for a break from work. A respite from the crazy last quarter. The time with family. The incredible food. I’m looking forward to all those things too. But I’m also dreading them.
You have defined my holidays, my traditions, and my memories for so long, that the idea of going through them alone feels like suffocating. Waking up and picturing my family around the table with your seat empty gives me a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Saying Happy Thanksgiving to those around me and realizing I won’t get to say it to your mom or your grandma feels awful.
But that doesn’t mean I miss you. It doesn’t mean I wish you were sharing this with me. It doesn’t mean I would change a thing about the past year. And it certainly doesn’t mean I want you back. It just means that it has been 6 years since I have done holidays without you by my side, and I need to redefine how I experience this season.
Part of what’s gotten me through all this is knowing that every negative thought has a counter positive thought. A “but/and”. A reassurance that I can feel multiple things at once. And acknowledging all these “but/and” moments grounds me.
So on Wednesday, you won’t be the one picking me up at the airport. But/and I’ll be greeted by my entire family, welcoming me back for my first holiday after moving away from home.
On Thanksgiving day, I won’t go back and forth between my house and yours, doing dinner part one with my folks, then dinner part two and dessert with yours, then returning to my place with you in tow for games and schmoozing. But/and it will be incredible to stay in one spot for the night, to not be torn in two directions, or running between houses, or feeling guilty for leaving my family.
On Black Friday, I won’t help you decorate your tree, or put up decorations, or celebrate the first holiday season in the house we built together. But/and I’ll spend the day with family and friends, sleeping in and shopping and eating leftovers with those closest to me.
On Christmas Day, I won’t celebrate with your family, laughing at your grandma’s over the top decorations, unwrapping gifts, eating too many Irish desserts or watching football. But/and I’ll return to the age-old tradition of a Jewish Christmas, with good old Chinese food and endless movies.
On New Years Eve, I won’t be with you and our old crew, watching fireworks, or setting off our own in someone’s backyard. I won’t kiss you at midnight, or make resolutions with you in mind. But/and I will experience the turn of the year in my new city, with my new friends, celebrating new beginnings and looking ahead to the incredible things I know are headed my way.
And come Valentine’s Day, you won’t take me out to dinner, or write me a card, or buy me flowers. But/and I will look back at the year that has passed since we broke up, and realize that our traditions and are officially in the past.
It will be hard to experience these moments without you, but it will also be healing. I’m sure I’ll have flashbacks of memories even when I least expect them. But when the holidays are over, I will also have new ones.
Ones that aren’t tainted by our toxic past. Memories that don’t involve resentment, or fights, or emotional abuse. They will show me that I can get through this season without you. And then, like I’ve done with every other aspect of our relationship, I will close the final door.