Much ado about nothing


Thanksgiving was really nice. Mom and I felt like we had reclaimed the holiday (one of my favorites) after the last two years were disappointing, to say the least. Turkey sandwich for lunch yesterday, then a walk downtown to do some shopping and see the holiday parade and the tree-lighting in the park. Santa was there! Flew in from New York yesterday, apparently.  The parade was short – this is a very small town – but just as well as this is northern Michigan and it was cold. Not too bad though, considering Thanksgiving morning for the Turkey Trot it was 5°,  and there was hot chocolate and cookies to warm everyone up. Spirits were high, and  I was glad I went.

Today the resting begins. I have no plans to get dressed. We’re doing the day in the key of low, and probably tomorrow, too. To my mind, this is the best part of this weekend. I usually take this whole week off – 9 days off in a row for the price of only 3 vacation days! – but I didn’t this year, cuz I’m saving my leave time in case mom gets really ill again and I have to stay home with her for a while like last Spring. So this year I’m doing 2 days of LOTS OF THINGS! and 2 days of NOTHING!, and that’ll be good enough.

And the Nothing has started! Yay! Reading and lounging and I don’t know what else, but whatever it is it will not involve wearing pants or shoes. I will probably put up our little Christmas tree and put new batteries in the outside twinkle lights, but that’s the extent of my ambition for this dark November day. Perfect day for pancakes and a cup of tea, then soft music and reading.

That’s the plan, anyway. When mom gets up that plan could be scuttled, depending on how she feels. She has good days and bad days, and one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with in this situation is that when she has a bad day it changes everything, including whatever I had planned, and there just isn’t any  way around that. I grew up in a household controlled entirely by my mother’s health issues and here I am again.

I’m an adult now, though. I get it’s not all about me, and I’m pretty clear that I’m here for my mother and not for me. So her needs take precedence, and I just try not to hang on too tightly to my expectations, so I’m not disppointed all the time like I was when I was little. In fact, I try not to have expectations in the first place, but that’s easier said than done, for sure. I knew a guy once who was a pessimist and he said the benefit of always expecting the worse was that he was almost never disappointed and sometimes he was pleasantly surprised. 🙂

I am fundamentally an optimist, though, so I’m afraid I can’t easily stop my battered brain from hoping, but I try hard to keep an open mind and heart and just go with the flow. Not necessarily without disappointment, but without resentment, and that has made the difference. Resentment will eat you up and spit you out if you let it, and I let it for a long time, I’m sad to say. I’m older and wiser now, though, and I avoid the R-word at all costs. Therapy helped me recognize it and banish it, and I’m so deeply grateful for that. Now meditation helps keep it from sneaking up on me.

So I’ll hope that the NOTHING plan comes off without a hitch today, but if not, well, I’ll do what needs to be done. Whatever it is. That’s what I signed up for, and that’s just the way it is right now. It won’t be this way forever. Who knows where or with whom I’ll be next  Thanksgiving? There’s always the chance that this is the last Thanksgiving for my mom, or for me, for that matter. The future is not meant to be known. If it was, we wouldn’t be able to go on, would we?

Holidays mark time. Among all the non-descript days in the year they stand out in our memories. I know exactly where I was on Thanksgiving day last year, and the year before that, the years my dad and grandma were with us, and the year I had 12 people at card tables in my little kitchen and we played Uno after dinner. Unlike most of the rest of the days that just glide by in the busy-ness, holidays are special. Friends and family gather and we celebrate our human life and each other and all that’s good in the world. We witness the changes in each other in the last year, and remember those who are no longer with us.

Hopefully we spare a thought for those who are alone or homeless or who’ve suffered tragedy in the last year, too. Because holidays mark the bad years, too, sadly. They are guideposts through the year, marking our passage through the Grand Turn, our trip around the sun, for better or worse. This year we’re good, other years less so. All part of our lives, the good and the bad. There’s no avoiding either.

So Thanksgiving is over and now on to Christmas, which I’m less inclined to look forward to, but still, there are good things, and it serves as an opportunity to take stock, give thanks and celebrate life and love and the return of the Light. I’m not a Christian per se, anymore, but I’m all about the light and the Solstice and the turning of the year. When I was a practicing Episcopalian, Advent was my favorite time of year. The anticipation of light’s (and life’s) return is especially meaningful to us in the northern realms, where light and growth is scarce for much of the year.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, in whatever way you give thanks and mark time, I wish you well and I wish you much more of whatever it is you long for.

For myself today and tomorrow I’m wishing and hoping for nothing. For rest and restoration. Renewed strength for the way forward.

In my pajamas! Onward ho.

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