“How was your Thanksgiving?” “Thanks for asking…..I survived.” This is the part where the subject inserts some story about a drunk uncle or a racist grandmother who wants to know about a boy the granddaughter is dating. Sometimes egos erupt into an avoidable fight. If you’re really lucky, someone who never offers to help cook or clean up will criticize the food or ambiance. Why does it have to be so damn hard?
My sister is the queen of party throwing. Her house has never felt like that. My holiday was Thanksgiving. I loved it. I would host my wife’s family. Hallie was always in Florida and my brother did his thing with his in-laws. My sister, Kelly, spent her time with her family or would work. I loved to cook and host.
When Jacob got sick, this changed. So much changed within me. I slowed down in 2019 and appreciated every moment of that Thanksgiving. Jacob didn’t feel good but he was on the road to recovery. By 2020, the writing was on the wall, perhaps in Sanskrit, but it was there. We didn’t know it would be his last.
Thanksgiving 2021 was a blur. I know I cooked and hosted the usual suspects. I remember one comment, so insensitive, that I almost lost it. I remained calm and let it fester. I still have resentment. My sister hosted and threw a banger as usual. She themed it “Country Christmas,” in honor of Jacob’s love for country music. No controversy! Okay, so someone wore a baseball cap at the table, but if that’s the worst thing, we are good.
Our location changed this year. With my in-laws unable to travel north, the Dallet/Butzes flew south. We ate bayside, at a seafood joint. The next day, we all came together and shared a home cooked meal. Everyone made his/her specialty, and we had the best time possible. I never liked limits. I guess that’s why I lived in the excess. Today, it seems as if I do limit myself often. I limit my fun and my crying. Crying and feeling grief are mutually exclusive. Grief is never ending and crying is one of the byproducts of grief.
Holidays have turned into a battle with survival. I no longer look too respite and togetherness. I don’t fight it either. I love being with my family. I love the bonds formed with the “cousins.” Jacob and Ana were always close with my siblings’ kids. They were always close with Naomi’s sister’s kids. Since Jaocb’s illness, these worlds have perfectly collided. The cousins are now one in solidarity.
As the kids talk, sing, and dance, I sit in reflection of what was and what will never be again. I’ve become survivalistic. Is there hope for this feeling to change? Sure. I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Surviving the holidays, right now, is the best I can do.
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