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Here We Go Again...

Chili is in the crock-pot for tonight's dinner. (And for leftovers all weekend when we just can't eat another bite of turkey.)

Sticks of butter are softening for pie crust making.

Our very frozen turkey is chillin' (no pun intended) in a water bath in the cooler on the back porch in hopes that it will be thawed and ready for the smoker by tomorrow morning.

The holiday season is upon us. And today, much like the skies, I find my mood gray. (In fact it appears as if the possible freezing rain is indeed going to make an appearance today.) Generally I try to keep things optimistic here. I mean who wants to read a whiny, complainy, depressing blog? (Isn't that why we have newspapers and editorial news magazines? And those of you who know me best know I do my very best at avoiding those publications.) But today I feel compelled just to share from my heart in hopes that sharing will help lighten my mood a bit.

I'm not even sure where to start. Maybe it's with the general sadness in my heart I'm feeling about heading into yet another holiday season without my extended family near. As dysfunctional as we can all be at times (I mean really who doesn't have a some what dysfunctional clan of relatives) they are still my family. They are the people who fill my memories when I think of holidays past. And in a family where even dysfunction can be set aside for a bit in order to enjoy a fabulous meal together, I find solo Thanksgiving feast preparations more than a little lonely today. Right now I imagine my Mom is busy in her kitchen creating all sorts of yummy smells as she prepares to fill her house with family and friends tomorrow. I know our family's favorite sage dressing is on the menu. And my pumpkin cheese cake. (Which I'm not even making...I mean who needs to bake a whole cheese cake for only 4? Talk about potential for calorie overload!) And, of course, wine. (Plus all the other givens.)

I am thankful that even if I can't be with my family tomorrow, my Mom took time to share with me over the years her joy for cooking. Traditions I hope I can pass down to my girls as they help me make the pumpkin pies and tear the bread for our own batch of dressing and smash the potatoes. And come meal time tomorrow we will toast good food, good fortune, and the love of family...near and far.

I actually love Thanksgiving. While I miss the opportunity to gather with my family as I did as a kid,
I love that we take time each year to pause and be thankful for the abundances we have all been blessed with in life. Unfortunately each year it seems that in general (at least in the eyes of retailers and the media) Thanksgiving becomes less about family and thankfulness, and more about opening the gateway to Black Friday...and on a personal note what has, over the past few years, become the most emotionally complex and stress filled month of the year.

The stress of stretching an already tight budget a little further to accommodate extra holiday and wintertime expenses. The balancing of expectations with reality without squashing the spirit of the holidays in the hearts of 2 fabulous little girls. The tugging at my heart to be near my family. The processing of feelings tied to holidays past. The desire to teach my girls the true, compassionate meaning of giving during the holiday season regardless of one's religious beliefs to balance the consumerism driven images they are spoon fed through advertising and media. It all weighs heavy on my heart.

Every year I think, just let it all go. Just enjoy the simple joys of the season. I try to focus on the new traditions we are creating in our family. I try not to mourn the celebrations that we can not be a part of because of distance and/or finances. After all aren't the holidays suppose to be about cheers...not tears?

For whatever reason I'm having a harder time than normal facing it all this year. And while I'm not normally one to wish away time, and as much as the weather generally sucks in January here in central Iowa, it would be perfectly OK with me if we could simply fast forward to the start of the new year. Because while January is long and cold, the days begin to slowly grow longer...and there is the promise of the coming of spring.

And now, because no amount of bitching and whining is going to speed up time or ease the sadness...I have pumpkin pies to bake.

May your holiday season be filled with the warmth and love of family, good food, good friends, and the type of abundance that no amount of money can buy. And may we all find peace in our hearts this holiday season and always...through the tears and the cheers.



Beverly said…
That was beautiful and poignant. Amazing how many people feel unhappy at holiday time. Hopefully, the sun will come out tomorrow and spirits will be lifted all around. Wishing you the best Thanksgiving, Jenn.
kshotz said…
Thanks for this post Jenn....I am (and have been for a number of years) right there with you. Wishing you peace today my friend.

Kim in Fort Dodge
s said…
Jenn...I totally understand! Because the baby is set to arrive sometime in mid January, I'll be home for Christmas and not traveling anywhere for the first time since I went away to college.

Thanks for posting :)

- stephanie

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