This year was my first Thanksgiving ever without my kids, who spent the holiday with their other parent and family. I was saddened at the thought of not having a holiday with them, even though that particular holiday had been cursed by a series of unfortunate events in previous years (a miscarriage on Thanksgiving, a psychological meltdown on the one year anniversary of my miscarriage, the beginning of the official end of my marriage a couple years later). Still, last year the tide had turned and the first Thanksgiving with just myself and the boys had come and gone with some success and good times.
I turned down a few offers to join friends for Thanksgiving festivities this year, preferring ultimately to hunker down at home. I watched the parade in a leisurely manner. I drank coffee and cruised the Internet. I watched T.V. so bad I can’t even remember what I saw. I made stuffing from scratch and ate it out of the Crockpot. Sometimes with my hands. Almost always standing up. I washed it down with hard cider. I had no shame. It was moderately glorious.
Throughout the day I, per habit/addiction, checked in on Facebook. Scene after perfect scene of beautifully set tables, cable knit clad families and Fall festivities showed up. Status after status reported how grateful my friends were for their perfect families, magazine-worthy cuisine, hilarious banter with relatives and just life in general. Laughing offspring, piles of homemade pies, hugging relatives and pets in sweaters filled my Timeline. Meanwhile, real life friends lit up my iPhone with texts: “You have no idea how much I envy you being alone.” “I’ve gone to three markets and half my family just cancelled.” “You’re so lucky you get to do nothing.”
But still, feeling sad and sentimental, I called my kids around dinner time. Screaming filled the background. Granted they were screams of happiness and fun, but screams none the less. It was deafening. I thought back to previous battles of getting the kids to dress up for dinner. Of trying to tend children and a turkey, each equally needy and requiring constant checking on.
I remembered spending a day making traditional foods, setting the table, and setting up to make some memories, only to have the kids reject half my efforts and finish the meal in mere minutes a la Tasmanian Devil, whirling across the table and leaving a debris field. I remember being thankful for absolutely nothing, and slightly bitter, as I attempted to attack the pile of dishes in the sink.
Yes, of course, there were great moments throughout past Thanksgiving days, as there are with every day. But as with the every day, there were also temper tantrums, fits, arguing, protests and questionable manners and hygiene. My parenting skills wobbled like canned cranberry sauce. Family members quibbled. The best laid plans ended up going horribly wrong.
And knowing how things really are, I am calling bullshit on your Thanksgiving. Post as many perfect moments as you want, but know that I know that those are literally just a snapshot. Every kid smiles for at least moment on holidays. I could pass off every day as picture perfect too. But I don’t. Usually. And I want you to know that I know. So, yes, I missed my kids. In theory. Family holidays always seem like a good idea. In theory. And I too am guilty of posting the best of the day. But also know it’s ok to be be jealous of me and my kid-free holiday.