Seventeen years ago, I had a miscarriage on Thanksgiving. Literally, at the Thanksgiving table. I was 10 weeks pregnant. Two of my sisters were there, and lots of my in-laws. It was a houseful, and it was horrid.
Fifteen years ago, I was holding my 5-month-old firstborn baby, Grace, at the Thanksgiving table, and counting my blessings. But just two weeks later, I was in Stanford Medical Center, praying for her life after discovering that she had had a stroke and she was having seizures.
The very next Thanksgiving, after another miscarriage, I was cuddling my 6-week-old baby girl, Lea Jane.
My husband hates Thanksgiving. He feels enormous pressure to balance out the imbalance that his own family struggled with for many years. Once we started our own family, we tried to orchestrate a peace by hosting Thanksgiving. Certain traditions are so deeply rooted in his family, however, that providing the location did little to ease his stress.
The Thanksgiving memories from my childhood are all jumbled together. I know there was lots of cooking and lots of drinking. The older I got and more dysfunctional my family became, the more the drinking became the central theme.
But I don’t hate Thanksgiving. I totally should. I have lots of evidence that it is rife with sadness and strife. But I just don’t. I sort of like the idea of a single day devoted to eating and drinking and family. I feel good about dedicating thanks for the year about to end, and looking forward to what is to come in the next year.
Or I am a glutton for punishment? Or I am anxiously trying to right wrongs and erase memories by replacing them with new ones?
The recent election has caused division among our families. The position and place in my life with my husband have put some restraints on familial relationships. Tolerance levels are lower. I am wary.
But my two daughters have been planning their outfits for weeks. I am looking forward to hanging with my sisters and laughing and toasting to our sisterhood. I will be vigilant around my teens and their behavior. I will stay attuned to my husband and his irritability, which will be obvious to me alone. We will all get through it just fine. Most people pull out their best behavior for these notoriously tension-filled gatherings. I am going to count on that.
This holiday is so heavy. Heavy with food. Heavy with gratitude. Heavy with football. Heavy with family. Heavy with feelings. But I have so much to be thankful for.
This post was originally published on BlogHer.