We are officially tip toeing on the edge of holiday season (woo hoo!). I love this time of year because I get to sit around a dining room table passing the rolls, laughing at family stories, sharing joy, and filling up on warmth and love (and obviously too much pie). This is a newer holiday reality for me again and although I am really big into the holiday spirit, it hasn’t always been a positive journey (here is a fair warning, there are some real feels coming, but I promise, there is some joy in there).
My parents divorced when I was 2 years old and I ended up living with my grandparents. My grandma and grandpop did everything in their power to make sure, especially around the holidays, that I didn’t feel “different,” or “left out” from the other kids who got to spend the holidays with their parents. Every Thanksgiving we did the long dinner table, fixing my favorite dishes, and overly showering me with affection. Every Christmas, we had our traditional oyster breakfast (my grandparents were east coast southern), followed by them spoiling me with too many gifts, planning scavenger hunts for extra excitement, and of course, so much love. I never felt like I was missing out on any normalcy. In fact, I thought other kids were missing out because they didn’t have my grandparents for their holiday season.
Fast forward 15 years, my last Christmas with my grandma. I cooked oysters like we traditionally did and drove them to the nursing home so she and I could have our holiday. As I fed her, I realized what the future held for our relationship and I decided to push down the bitterness that started to bubble around not having her anymore. A few short months later, she passed, followed by my grandpop 2 years later. Because my grandparents were my normal, everything fell apart, especially around the holidays. I felt really broken, alone, and for the first time in my whole life, I actually felt very different. For the next few years, I just struggled through the bitterness each year and just thought that was how it would be… until I met my husband.
My husband, who is a pretty tough cookie with the sweetest spot for me (just like my grandma), started to bring me back to myself. Seeing how excited he would get to spend the holidays with his family started to get me excited again too. He knew I was sensitive/broken, so he made sure to ease me in and always made sure I was ok. We’d leave if I started to feel sad or if he felt like I needed some him and I time to talk through my heart baggage. He never judged me for feeling different. He never lost faith that I could still love his family with my whole heart (which I do) even though it needed to mend a little first. He showed me that even though I was a broken crayon, I could still color and was worth digging to the bottom of the box for.
Because of this long journey, I’ve learned that each day is what you make it, and in a split second, if you’re willing to allow it, joy can find you anywhere. Your past is not your future and it certainly doesn’t establish your worth. So now, whether we are spending the holidays together as our little family (my husband, myself, and the crazies. (aka, the dogs)) or spending them with family in Virginia, I know how special each memory is and how “normal” is never quite colorful enough for me.