I shuffled into the dark kitchen in the early morning, like so many Thanksgivings before in our married life. As the sun began to move through the windows, I heaved the giant turkey into the oven, began peeling potatoes, and begrudgingly allowed my daughter to play Christmas music—this is a perennial argument in our house.
I think each holiday should be fully enjoyed before beginning the next one while my children feel very differently, but I digress…
I turned to ask my husband if he could please take out the trash, but he wasn’t there. Looking at the homemade name cards my children had carefully placed around the dining room table, including his at what would be an empty chair, it hit me again. He wouldn’t be with us for Thanksgiving this year. Again.
While the above scenario was a few years ago, I’ve spent a good share of holidays without my husband simply due to the nature of his job. This year finds me alone again. And while it might sound crazy to some to say I’m still thankful and actually looking forward to Turkey Day, I really am.
While trying to make the best of a meh situation, I’ve learned a lot about thankfulness during these sometimes lonely days. If you’re also facing the holidays alone, I hope this can be of some help to you!
Why I’m Thankful Even Though I’ll Be Alone on Thanksgiving
1. It reminds me what’s important.
Being apart from the one I love the most in the world has a way of simplifying things. Whether I’m cooking for just a few or heading out to a larger gathering, there’s an ache that underlies everything I do when he’s gone. And believe it or not, I’m thankful for that because it reminds me to never ever take for granted our love and family or the gift this man is to me. When I see others getting spun up about what are really minor things, it’s easier for me to be objective and ‘not sweat the small stuff.’ It also reminds me to let the little things go when he is here.
2. The food!
Whether I’m cooking for a few—just me and a couple of my kids—or joining forces with other friends and family, I am a foodie at heart. Some friends have suggested I treat myself to a restaurant and forego all the prep and cooking to give myself a break. Here’s the thing—I like it! Thanksgiving is a near holy day for us foodies and no amount of aloneness can make me not want to bake my secret recipe pecan pie or try yet again to concoct a lumpless gravy. (Plus, leftovers!) As much as it would help my waistline, I am not that person who forgets to eat or wastes away during a separation.
Without the pressure of being responsible for a big gathering, I can get away with a lot! No one expects the deployed spouse to host the neighborhood gathering, so if I want to spend my day in jammies and eat my Thanksgiving dinner on the couch, who’s to judge?