The holidays can be lonely. If family is far away–and sometimes even if they’re nearby–the whole season can loom like a spectre, inducing feelings of overwhelm. If you’re experiencing any kind of loss, separation, financial strain, or personal stress, all the preparing and shopping and cooking and traditions can easily lose their shimmer, lose their joy.
We haven’t gone home (home being Michigan, where most of our extended family lives) for the holidays in three years. Two years ago we moved halfway across the country over Thanksgiving weekend. Last year we had a newborn. This year work is taking my husband overseas for the holidays, so the girls and I are staying put. The thought of traveling alone with them on potentially snow-covered Midwestern roads gives me instant anxiety.
Local friends keep telling me, “Let us know if we can do anything for you.” I finally said to one of them, “You know, it’s not the house and the grocery shopping and the yard that will be difficult. I can handle those things. It’s the mental and emotional piece that will be challenging.” This is the crux, isn’t it? In such times, more than a need for physical help, it’s a sense of aloneness that threatens to overtake.
We do have some family planning to visit–my parents will be here for Thanksgiving, and others may come later in the season, but the bulk of our days will be spent quietly, just the three of us girls, tearing links off the paper countdown chain my preschooler is assembling.
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