I spent Thanksgiving at my ex-husband’s. It was a real relief not to host; I usually do, but this year my ex volunteered. We all pitched in and cooked, but it was so nice not to have to worry about cleaning up and washing dishes and such.
He hosted his girlfriend and her kids and her ex husband. My mom also was there. And my bestie, Elsa, who spent the past few days with her family partly so she could be with me at this Thanksgiving meal for moral support. Good bestie!
Most people I have mentioned our guest list to think it’s nuts to be there with the ex and his girlfriend and her ex. That it’s too close, too weird, too awkward. It was our first time doing this kind of meal together.
I would be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous. I am single again and it was painful to be “alone.” I was meeting the girlfriend’s ex for the first time at a sit-down dinner…what if it was uncomfortable?
So why did I push through and do it?
- My kids. I want to be with my kids and I want to be with them as we celebrate events together. Doing separate holidays seems excessive and sad. We are a family even though we are divorced. I want to witness them eating the foods we make them and it feels good to sit at a table with them and their father.
- Family. I want to model for my boys what our family looks like in all of its non-traditionalness. They are the products of me and their dad. It’s important for them to see us working together to make holidays special together.
- Change. This year was all about change. Being single is a big change. It didn’t feel good to plan to not be a part of the “main” celebration. I enjoyed clinging to the things that are familiar even though so much has changed. Baking, cooking, and doing loads of dishes and vacuuming up stray garlic cloves and cauliflower leaves are things that give me comfort. When things change, it’s important to keep some things the same.
- Pain. Life can be painful. Loss is painful. But I’m forcing myself not to wallow in self-pity (which is something I could easily have earned a PhD in…). Pain does not have to paralyze us. It can be present while simultaneously moving forward. This year, it propelled me to my ex-husband’s house.
- Gratitude. When I was feeling really down a few weeks ago as plans and the ex-husband’s guest list took form, a friend reminded me that “there is no unhappiness too great to be lessened.” How right she was. My mentor reminded me how much there is to be grateful for and whereas in the past I might have rolled my eyes and said to myself, “She doesn’t really get it,” this year it pierced right into my heart. I have two children. That’s a blessing. I have an ex-husband who is not perfect and who sometimes irritates me, but all in all, he is pretty awesome. He has a fantastic girlfriend–truly. She’s delightful. And she wants her family intact even though they are also divorced. My mother is here and well. My best friend and I have been each other’s main support for years and this year I have needed her so much; she comes through every single time. My life is not perfect and I struggle a lot, but there are blessings despite my complaints.
So how did it go? With the attitude of gratitude I went into it with, I shouldn’t be surprised that it went great. It was an enjoyable evening. We did a puzzle and watched some of the Macy’s parade. We also watched a little football. The food was great and there were plenty of leftovers. I didn’t eat so much that I felt sick. My cheesecake was delicious if I do say so myself. We took a walk before dinner and after. The air was chilly and it rained last night so it wasn’t smoky out. There were some Christmas lights up in my ex’s neighborhood, and they bring me joy just looking at them.
There are many blessings. I hope this past holiday weekend that you found some, too.