A Word of Thanks

Forgive me if the tone of this piece is a little…well, melancholy. But you know what? Melancholy is how many of you may be feeling right now as the holiday season has descended upon us.

During an ongoing pandemic no less.

After a contentious and still (I think), contested presidential election.

There’s more people struggling among us and we have no idea to what extent. Maybe we are the ones who are on the temporary struggle bus.

And despite the ad agencies and retailers giving us directives to be “cheerful”, or even grateful this time of year, some of us can’t muster up the strength. There are families who can’t be together to enjoy 15-minutes of a civil conversation over decent turkey and over-cooked dressing, before someone manages to say something provocative. Or just out right crazy. Which usually is so offensive to someone else, that they storm out of the house mid-chew.

You know I’m right. We can keep it our little secret…but we both know that you’ve either witnessed a similar scene, or maybe you were (ahem) more “ involved” in the story.

As dysfunctional as others can be (or we can behave at times), you can’t help but miss the opportunity to connect with someone during the holidays.

There was a time that Thanksgiving was a holiday that I refused to celebrate. It was my grandmother’s favorite holiday. And she made her transition two days before my birthday and days before her favorite holiday. How could I celebrate when she was no longer with us? And then my uncle, whose birthday is two days after mine, also made his transition. The family used to celebrate our birthdays together during Thanksgiving. And now neither of them were with us. Would you feel festive all things considered?

And then one day I said to myself, “Self. Life is for the living. You must LIVE. You are still here and your life is worth celebrating. Including your grandmother’s favorite holiday and your uncle’s birthday. You are allowed to move on with all of that love that you carry inside for them. You must give some of that love to YOURSELF. Love your life.”

With this new perspective, I began my own holiday tradition beginning with Thanksgiving. Some years I spent Thanksgiving in some of the most non-traditional ways (e.g., swearing off the very semblance of anything associated with a Thanksgiving dinner menu.) Going to the movies; other times I was blessed to be invited to spend the day with friends and making new ones. Other years, I hosted Thanksgiving my way at my apartment in Brooklyn. Once I changed my thoughts, I could change the narrative. And I did it on my own terms. I have never looked back.

So for those of you for which the following applies, I salute and honor you today. You’re taking care of you which is paramount. So if you decide to eat pizza or fried rice on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, good for you. Cereal? Why not! Kale, tofu and ginger beer…sounds like a party. You’re spending the holiday alone this year…yeah well, it’s probably safer that way right now (just saying.)

Put on Frank Sinatra’s version of “My Way”, or Lizzo’s “Soulmate”, and have your own party.

I guess the masses and advertisers are right after all. There is always something, or dare I say someone to celebrate.

Even when or if that someone is you.

Cheers.