Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Holidays

I sort of know how he feels.


With apologies to all those who get all gooey-eyed over the holidays, this whole divorce thing is a real buzz kill during the holiday season.

Betty does not like changes.

This year has been all about changes.

The holidays will be different too. Really different.

My simple plan this year is to get through them.

That's it.

Just get through them.

HOB and I will not be together for the first time in thirty years. In the spirit of kinship, I invited him to eat with Evan and I for Thanksgiving, but he declined.

For the first time, Sonny Boy will not be home for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving without my boy will be hard enough, but it seems especially hard right now. We will miss him and his girlfriend, but it's too far for them to travel for the short time they could stay.

The good news: Evan is coming home for this first time since he left for college in August! Yay! I will be so happy to see him. I plan to get my Mama ya-ya's out. He and I will go over to a friend's house for dinner. I am grateful for her hospitality and kindness.

I just have to make it through the one day.

I'll get through Thanksgiving.

I will.

OK.

Then comes Christmas.

Oh man. Sonny Boy and his girlfriend won't be able to come home for Christmas either and we can't go there for the holiday. This tears me up.

I am normally a Christmas nut, and start decorating just after Thanksgiving, but when I think about unpacking those ornaments, (so many representing our years together) and unpacking those stockings, (ooooo...the four matching stockings my mom made). On top of that, every year I pack away lots of family pictures I display only at Christmas time. Needless to say, I won't open that box this year.

To tell you the truth, I would just like to crawl in a box instead and wait for the hideous green and red cloud to pass over.

Since we don't live near any family members, I have always made a big stinking deal out of making and sticking to our own family traditions. I usually decorate the house like crazy. I think I should do the same this year for Evan's sake. I want him to have something of the old life we used to have.

But what I really want to do is to turn off the lights, lock the door, and wait for December to be over.

Yes, both of these holidays are wonderful and yes, I am grateful for all I have and recognize how truly lucky I am. I don't mean to sound pathetic, woe-is-me, etc. It's just that these holidays somehow put in stark relief the way things are vs. the way things used to be.

And I have enough of that thing on a daily basis.

(Have I mentioned I really don't like change?)

Everyone I have talked to who has gone through this tells me that the first holidays are the worst, but once you get through them, everything gets better.

So, I am taking it just one day at a time.

Just one holiday at a time.


48 comments:

Tabor said...

Betty, so many are in your shoes, if that gives any comfort. And they like you are finding their way slowly and carefully. Holidays are a time for you to make a plan for a spring trip to visit loved ones or old friends. Plan the details and warm yourself with those. I have been through holidays when there are few and they do seem forced and empty...but maybe you can start a new tradition...distributing gloves to the homeless...visiting a lovely famous church...finding others you know who are facing this type of holiday and planning a get together. Everyone is right when they say that time is the healer. May these holidays be that.

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

I have no words...just a big (((HUG))) filled with lots of bloggy love for you.

Lin said...

It's like the death of a spouse, Betty. You have to take each minute, each day, each month, and each holiday and anniversary one at a time. Okay, so if this is a rough one, the next one will get better. Or not. But you will live, and soon, the pain will numb and you will start NEW traditions.

Aw, honey, don't apologize for feeling this way. It sucks--plain and simple. And it hurts--for all of you. I'm just really sorry that you are going through this.

I'm sending LOTS of hugs this time--and strength. I'm sure this is very hard for all of you--each of you feeling your own emotions through this very difficult time.

Hang in there, Betty. Each step you take is another step closer to closure and healing.

Flartus said...

I'm thinking that the more you try to make your holidays (especially Christmas) as you're used to, the more you'll notice how they're not the same. I suspect that if you made a decision to do something completely different--spend a night in a downtown hotel, have Christmas dinner in a nice restaurant, go on a day trip somewhere new--you might be surprised at how light you feel. All the decorating, baking, visiting, etc. is a lot of work. It might be nice to just let it go this year. It would be a clean, sharp break from your history, and a segue into starting new traditions.

Whatever you do, I'm glad you'll have Evan with you. Do try not to smother him all at once...poor boy. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

You know, I agree with Flartus. You're going through a lot right now, and things are not the same as they used to be, so just change it up. I'm sure Evan will understand if not every room is decorated, or there are no pictures. Santa Claus will still come, that's a given.

I think a trip to a resort sounds like a great idea. It'll keep your mind off the holiday and give you new memories to share with Evan.
And I think you need some new memories.

It's hard but you'll get through it. It's only 36 hours. One minute at a time.

Shelly said...

(((((Betty)))))

Hilary said...

Ahh Betty.. I feel for you. It's a difficult time of the year to face.

I think Tabor has the right idea. True that time heals but more importantly, it's what you do with your time that helps heal. New traditions which focus on others needs and less on your own is a great way to give and get from the holiday season.

Evan is going to feel the void, also. Help him to fill it by starting a new tradition or two, and allowing him to reignite some old ones. And be prepared that he might be wanting to spend some of his holiday time with HOB.

Focus more on what you can change and do, and less one what you used to do and you'll get though the holiday.. not without tears but you will get through it.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your son and your friends. Big turkey hugs to you and yours. The rest of them can.. stuff it. ;)

Leanne said...

My dearest B . . . . Oh, how my heart feels for you. But, knowing you, you don't wish for the attention. So, I'll simply say that this thanksgiving, among the others things I am grateful for . . . I will be saying thanks for YOU. for the support you have always given me, for the honesty in which you share your feelings with us, for the friendship I have in you. maybe just refocusing the energy will help you, my friend. Take it one day at a time, and it will be over before you know it. Hugs.

Ami said...

So many smart people have commented here. I have nothing to add except my hope that you will not only 'get through it' but that you will emerge strengthened from it and be able to face the next hurdles from that position.

(((Hugs)))

Gigi said...

I wish I had some wise words to add. But I don't so I'm sending you lots of hugs instead.

One day at a time, Betty.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty .. with thoughts - and as you say one step at a time .. many wishes too .. be at peace - Hilary

Daisy said...

Hugs to you, dear Betty. The holidays will definitely be different this year, but find the joy where you can. I'm happy for you that you will get to see Evan. I'm sure he is looking forward to the holiday break and being able to see you and be home with you. I'm sorry your other son won't be able to join you. My older son won't be able to make it home for Thanksgiving either. Christmas is still up in the air, but it isn't looking good either for him to come home. On the bright side, the reason he can't come home is that he has a job, so there's always the flip side of the coin, I guess.
Wishing you all the best.

Leah J. Utas said...

Betty, I don't have much to add. It's another test and a tough one, but I know you can do it. Make some new traditions and the day will come when you can remember the old ones easier.

Linda said...

I don't know what I can say that hasn't already been said except to wish for you God's blessings and comfort. He tells us to cast all our cares on Him because he cares for us.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm glad your son will be home for the holiday.
While he's there, ask what he'd like to do for Christmas. Maybe the two of you could do something really unique and different and start a new tradition.

Annie said...

I am sure that everyone here is pulling for you and will be thinking of you during the holidays.
I know I will.

Old Kitty said...

Beautiful BB! I really don't know how to comfort you. Of course these coming holidays are tough on you and I so understand why you'd want to just hide away and emerge once they're all over!! I just wish you courage and strength especially for Evan - but I hope that you'll also do things you want to do - like just not be festive - and I know your loved ones will understand. Take care
x

Pat said...

The "firsts" are hard to get through - but get through it YOU WILL. YEAH that Evan will be home - that will make it somewhat easier. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Loretta said...

You have really solved everything... getting through the holiday's the key! Then, doing familiar things with/for your son to give him a sense of family...that family is now the boys and you! This year...getting through it...next year... is yours'! Own it! Happy Holiday! Hugs

ellen abbott said...

don't do anything you don't want to do. don't try to recreate the past for Evan's sake. It won't be the same no matter what. Skip this year. No one will blame you least of all your son. Next year you can start on some new traditions.

Anonymous said...

Re: Evan. He is young. He likes change. He doesn't need decorations, but you may need one or two. I'd put him to work and let him get out a box and find a couple of items that mean something to him and then you two can decorate minimally together. That might even assist him in processing feelings that an 18 year old might avoid otherwise.
Love you always Betty!

Eva Gallant said...

Hugs, Betty. Things will get better.

Linda Myers said...

The first is the worst, and you'll get through it.

Consider asking Evan what he would like, and do only that.

Nicki Elson said...

Hey, at least you're going into it with eyes wide open about how difficult it will be - so maybe it won't be as bad as you're expecting. Keeping up some of the traditions for Evan will help too, and I suggest the two of you make up some fun new ones.

At any rate, January will be here before you know it.

jenny_o said...

No one would expect a person who lost her spouse to cancer, heart attack, etc. to decorate for Christmas and celebrate as if nothing had happened - you are grieving too, it's just that you lost your spouse a different way.

Thanksgiving dinner with friends sounds like a good thing to do.

Ms. A said...

I feel the same way about the holidays, just for somewhat different reasons. I still dread them. My anticipation of them is usually worse than they actually end up being.

Your situation stinks, but it could have been so much worse. What if HOB walked away from your marriage and you weren't the strong, independent, working woman you are?

Not to sound glum, but you can always be thankful... when it's over and that you survived.

Happy Thanksgiving, Betty! It'll be fine. Enjoy Evan, good friends and food. If it isn't fine, it'll be over pretty soon. Even Christmas doesn't last forever, although sometimes it feels like it does.

Blessings.

Brian (not the cat) said...

It's very understandable how you feel. But you will have a wonderful time with Evan, and your Thanksgiving company will, I'm sure, keep your spirits high.

Marlene said...

This, too, shall pass. I pray you enjoy your Thanksgiving with your son, and when it's all over and done with, you can say to yourself "that was actually pretty nice".

Ann said...

{{{{{{HUGS}}}}} I know exactly how you're feeling right now Betty. Take it slow, and do what feels right for you. Most of all take care of yourself and know that all your blog pals are wishing you well

Out on the prairie said...

I am sitting in an airport since friends made sure I celebrate the holiday, even sending me a ticket.I love the conversations I get to eavesdrop on.They are what you make them,celebrate as always.

Cynthia said...

Gosh, I just had a similar conversation with my sister last night. She is a divorced and single mother whose 22-year-old son (her only kid) is in the ICU with extensive brain damage after a horrific car crash. It's an extreme and tragic example, to be sure, but it does underscore the fact that this time of year is especially hard on anyone who is lonely and in pain. I guess the key is courage and compassion in equal parts. And faith that there will be better days ahead. On this Thanksgiving I would like to thank YOU, Betty, for your funny and kindhearted writing, and the generous way you share even these tough experiences with your readers and the wisdom and strength that accrue. You have probably made a difference to more people than you can imagine.

Tracy said...

Betty,
I'm so sorry that you are dreading the holidays with all the changes. However, perhaps you'll find new reasons to be thankful and new memories that will soften that place in your heart. But whatever it is you decide to do, be true to yourself and be cognizant of those emotions-it'll be the best way to get through the difficult times.
Happy days ahead...

julie fedderson said...

Hugs to you. I think you and the boys should talk about Christmas and make plans for something new and unique to the family you are now. Or even better, take a Christmas vacation together-that way no dishes or decor to put away!

Shan said...

Big hugs.

Baby Sister said...

I don't think you sound pathetic at all. I think it would be extremely hard to be in your shoes. Maybe you could start slowly buying new ornaments and things and give the old ones to your sons if you wanted. Just a suggestion. One day at a time, Betty. One day at a time. *hugs*

Retired English Teacher said...

You will make it. It won't be easy, but you will make it. I will be thinking of you. Hugs.

Carnival Girl said...

Oh Baby, yes, the holidays DO suck that first time, and there's no reason on earth why you should even THINK about pretending otherwise. As you said, just get through it, but you can also get through it YOUR way. Plan a nice Xmas day that YOU will enjoy. You don't even have to stay home. Take a trip, go visit someone, volunteer somewhere, take cookies and blankets to the Occupy crowd. Or stay home in your jammies all day and plan a Netflix binge- watch the entire first season of a series you never had time to watch before. Eat fancy chocolates and take out gourmet food you bought the day before. Get yourself lots of great presents and read books all day. The way to get through it is to get through it, and try not get caught up in all the sentimentality and hype and emotional pressure that everyone heaps onto our holidays. Soon it will all be past, and the year, like your life, will be brand new, rich with promise and hope and healing. Love you. . .KL

Kazzy said...

Best wishes, Betty, as you learn to do all of these hard things. Remember that weak things can be made strong. You are getting there.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Dear Betty,
I've no "chin up" comments or words of advice. I'll just keep holding you in my heart and prayers.
Love,
xoRobyn

Susan in the Boonies said...

Do what you feel like doing, and let the rest go.

My main comfort when my Mom died and everything changed forever was that my siblings totally got what I was going through, because they were bleeding, too.

So....take your comfort where you can. And know that I care.

Catherine said...

There really are so many firsts to get through. I hope you are able to slowly piece together new traditions and find the joy that you once had for celebrating the holidays. It will come back eventually, I just know it. Time is the answer but it can be so hard.

Sending you extra big hugs Betty!
xo Catherine

Laura Eno said...

You really ought to take a trip during Christmas. Start a whole new tradition for yourself. If you change it up so completely, you won't be looking at the same "tradition" with someone missing from the tableau.

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

My divorce (which was my choice, not his,) changed the way I viewed the holiday season forever -- but eventually in a good way. I think this will happen for you too -- but not for awhile.

Give yourself permission to do whatever you want to do or not do. I know your family will support whatever it is that makes sense.

xoxo

Green Monkey said...

I was thinking about you yesterday betty, as I wallowed in my family dysfunction. One holiday at a time I say. That and wine. A bowl of wine. And kittens. Kittens cure most things. xoMonkeyME

Unknown Mami said...

I think you deserve some new decorations.

CherylK said...

All of these suggestions are great, Betty. Maybe if you don't use any of your old decorations but go in a new direction...you'll not feel so sad.

And I'll bet your son would enjoy that, too...xxoo

Anonymous said...

Thanksgiving has come and gone and now for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve..Why not be kind to the many who have nothing at all, it will cheer you up quickly, take your son coming home, give to the hungry and homeless they are deserving of your kindness and gratitude, you have so much more than many..Time will heal so much in your life, it will take a long time though, just think of the many who have nothing and help some of them out, your life will be filled with the reason for the seasons, joy, love and happiness & peace..Happy Happy, praying for you daily!X()

The Empress said...

You are a level headed woman.

Exactly: just making it one day at at time.

I remember when we lost my grandmother, the one who raised us...that first holiday without her.

I just didn't want to get out of bed.

Praying for you...