(or Guilt in a Box)
A few weeks ago a colleague asked me “How was your Thanksgiving?” I replied by letting out an audible groan, to which he laughed and replied “You are the first person to respond that way.” And in that moment I realized that not everyone sees the holidays as a detonated minefield ready to explode.
For me, the holidays highlight loss. I become acutely aware of what I’ve had to sever in order to stay true to myself. I have a heightened sensitivity to people who are no longer in my life – either by death or estrangement. I look wistfully at friends and neighbors, who seem surrounded by family and who never have to contemplate the question of where or how to spend the holidays. Of course they will be with family, of course everyone will get together to celebrate. I live in hope that we will find a “chosen” family of our own, but it never seems like there is anyone around us who is also family-less.
And yet, I find myself trapped in the traditions of my childhood, unable to completely let go and forge a new set of traditions for my family. The past is hard enough to shake free from, under normal circumstances.