I am not good at holidays.
In the five years since my daughter passed I have yet to figure out what to do with them. Surely in that book I never received on how to react after you lose a child there is a chapter on the day and time in which holidays become tolerable.
The first year after we lost Hadley I expertly pretended each and every holiday did not exist. Christmas? No clue what you are talking about. Easter? Was that last Sunday? If I dug my head deeply under the covers I could stay in my sacred state of numbness. If I was forced into the world I vigorously protested, arms folded, facing the corner, blatantly ignoring greeting cards and family traditions.
Every year I know I must find a way to make it through and enjoy it somehow. My younger children are growing and I have to, I want to, like the holidays again. I am learning to appreciate moments and treasure emotions rather than full days and packed parties. As a family, we are redefining what the holidays are for us.
Thanksgiving is in one week and I’m not even dreading it because I’ve figured this one out. Somewhere between declining dinner party invites and making apple pie, I found my almost-happy place.
For Thanksgiving I am thankful to my daughter. I am thankful that I carried her and birthed her and for those sacred days she was here with us. And I am forever thankful for how she changed me. When she left the entire world dulled, but the things that matter sharpened.
My eyes are wide open to the gifts in my life because of her. Smiling kids and pink sunsets and days when getting out of bed is easier than it was the day before never go unnoticed. I could care less about a stained carpet or a traffic jam because, in a world where life is as fragile as I have been taught, they just don’t matter.
I’m allowed to be bitter about not picking out a Thanksgiving dress in a 5T or even knowing if that is the size she would wear this year and a good cry in the shower is perfectly acceptable, but I’m also rallying to get better at this holiday business and Thanksgiving is the first one I’ve managed to make work.
I have a daughter to be thankful to, a new perspective to be thankful for and one more holiday I will have made it through because I never did get that holiday survival guide for the broken-hearted.