Thanksgiving Alone but Not Lonely

Thanksgiving has always been the  most difficult holiday for me to be away from my family.  I remember the first Thanksgiving I spent in the military.  I was clear across the country and in a room full of other young service men & women who were also away from thier families for the first time and we were all blasted out of our heads.

I remember waking up in a hotel room and looking around at the “body count”.  Honestly, today I don’t even know how many of us were there, crammed in to a tiny room with double queen size beds.  There were bodies everywhere sleeping it off.  The desk clerk  was none too pleased, and charged us a wallop extra for it.

If I had thought about it… as much as we squpent on booze that night, we might have been able to buy airfare to get “home for the holidays”.  Unfortunately, however, it’s not always about money…  sometimes you don’t have the leave time.  Sometimes you are in the middle of a training course and get only the one day off.  That was our case in 1995.  So, we had embarked on a full blast night of high energy debautchery and drinking.

I spent many holidays away from my family when I was serving in The Marines.  Thanksgiving was always the most difficult for me because throughout my childhood Turkey Day always meant Grandma’s house crammed with Aunts, Uncles, and cousins galore — all eating and laughing and cooking and talking in total bliss.

Still, Thanksgivings in the military were easier than they’ve been since I got out and moved several states away.  It’s different out here in the civilian world.  Most people either live near thier families, or travel to see them over the holidays.  Those of us on our own out in the world tend to get left behind.

That wasn’t the case when I was serving because everyone left on the base was there without extended family, so there was always an invitation to someone’s Thanksgiving.  If I was working barracks duty or something, someone always brought you a plate of turkey dinner and visited with you for a while.  I realize that not all military units are like this, but that was my experience.

Not so in my years since…  People get all busy and caught up in thier own families and their own plans.

I was thinking about this, turning it over in my head as I walked through the grocery store the day before the big hearty holiday.  My children were with thier father, and I was scheduled to work a 12 shift.

The loneliness started to creep in, but then I had a comforting thought…. or feeling or whatever.  The thought just came in to my head “this will be the last time you’ll have to spend the holidays without him.”

Of course, I figure that means without my “person”.  Then I started to think that even when I had my own little family, unbroken, Thanksgiving was still lonely for me.  I still badly missed my extended family and the holidays the way they were when I was a kid.

I went back home a couple years ago, my precious kiddos in tow.  I spent most of the trip just crying my eyes out being in the arms of my truly amazing family and knowing I would have to go “home”… back to California.  Back to alone town.

Maybe that experience helped though, because the lonely feeling lifted.  Part of me realized that Thanksgivings just aren’t the same these days.  Our family has grown so incredibly large that we can no longer celebrate in anyone’s home.  No one has a house big enough!

The year I went home to visit, my family reserved a banquet room at a buffet type restaurant and people were streaming in and out all day long.  I still got to see all those wonderful people but it felt very different.

I think I’m also healing my damaged lonely heart.    This year I didn’t eat turkey.  I didn’t sit and laugh and talk with family… but my heart was so full.  I worked a job I love…  I felt fully grateful for meaningful work and a chance to serve my community.

My eyes were wide open and I could see all the incredible people place in my daily life…  my co-workers especially.  I am so incredibly blessed to work with a number of people I can tell anything to.  I can share my hopes and dreams, my sorrows and frustrations… even my spirituality.  Although, there are a few of them more crazy than the rest of us…  the majority are supportive to thier very core.  That’s what we do, after all, is offer our support to the officers out on the road however we can.  But, it’s not just something we do, it’s who we are.

My children, although they were with thier Dad eating disproportionate amounts of turkey and stuffing…  They are happy, healthy, succeeding little people in this world.  They are kind and loving, strong and protected and bonded with both thier parents.  We may not live near my terrific family, but they have many people in thier daily lives that love them.

I am so incredibly thankful for this new perspective.  This healing feels a little like falling in love…  Colors are brighters, the world is more beautiful.  The music is the same but I feel it somehow deeper now.   I am becoming whole.  When my “person” does arrive, or re-emerge… I’ll be whole.  Oh, to be in a relationship with two whole people instead of two broken and struggling halves… (with a smile and stars in my eyes)  I can only imagine!

Published in: on November 25, 2012 at 9:00 am  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So great to reconnect with you as I have been climbing up from my laundry of life. I am always in admiration of your ability to write your true self and it inspires me to continue to do the same. May you always find that completeness, wherever you are. 😀


    • Thank u for that. I an starting to see people in my life be a little surprised because that “true self” is coming out in all sorts of ways. It really feels good not to be scared to say how I feel.

      • Absolutely! Keep on shining! My apologies for being so absent.. It’s been quite hectic.. I need to find time…

  2. a beautiful and tender post. Lovely post. Courageous post. Inspirational.

    • Thank u. The words I wrote are really carved on my heart. I was moved to tears when sharing it with my shift partners… glad others can identify too.

      • I sense this… Let me tell you that I feel me a fellow, not a follower. And I stay close to your writings because are an inspiration for me.Your courage to write some biographical themes are very inspirational . You are a lovely person, a kind woman, a good mother and a honest writer. Sincerely. Walter

      • Many thanks, Walter. That was a beautiful compliment. 🙂

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