Connect
To Top

Single Mom Slice Of Life: Side Dishes Aren’t The Only Choices At Thanksgiving

 

If you’ve learned anything at all about me while reading my columns for goodenoughmother.com, you know this; even at the ripe, old age of 37, I still thrive on approval. It doesn’t matter who it’s from really; family, friends, coworkers, the check-out lady I once snapped at and now make it a point to smile at brightly each time I see her so she doesn’t think I’m a bad person.

My need for approval often comes at a price.  More often than not, that price is my time. I will agree to anything, go anywhere, do anything asked just because… well… someone asked me.  For the most part, it’s a small price to pay, and really, deep down I’m aware of the chance that the sun will still rise if I say “no”, but still, it’s the sun, that’s a chance I’m just not willing to take.

Thus, the dilemma I face each and every year:  where do we spend our holiday?

Keep the following facts in mind:  I am divorced – that is an instant two family situation.  I come from divorce; that brings us up to four families. I don’t make friends; I adopt family, now we’re up to at least 15 options.  And they all invite us over each and every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This debilitating decision making process is one I have struggled with since I was about 18.  The boys, they’re perfectly happy anywhere they go – I am very lucky that way.  PLEASE understand that as problems go, I should just shut my trap and eat the 30 turkeys made available to me each year.

However, which one do we chose?  Will the others have their feelings hurt if we don’t go?  If I make the drive to California this year, will I be expected to do it again next year?  If I’ve said “no” three times to this one, will they think I don’t love them?  If I go to someone on the ex-in-law side of the family, will they judge me the entire meal?  Oh geeze, don’t even get me started on the years that Justin decides he’s Jewish or Dominic has one of his bouts of vegetarianism.

Part of me wants to say this is such a difficult decision because we have such amazing traditions throughout the rest of the year, this feels like we’re denying ourselves to start a Thanksgiving tradition of our own.  Another part of me feels like it’s my duty, if I’ve been getting up and dressed and traveling to Thanksgiving all this time, I may as well just keep going. Also, I once cried when I was sent on vacation by my boss, oh yeah I did.  I called her asking her why she was doing this to me, there was nothing to clean, nothing to fix, no one but myself to take care of and when we’re at other people’s homes for the holidays, I feel a bit like that too, no matter how much I consider you family.

Then again who are we kidding?  There is something tempting about rebelling against it all and just hiding in the dark, turkey leg poised to strike, mostly because I’m lazy and the thought of staying in my jammies all day and doing nothing but eating comfort food in fuzzy slippers and a pony tail is damned appealing.

But there’s also something about knowing we’re so loved that we can have our pick of welcoming homes. I adore the idea that people look forward to this time of year and want to spend it with us.  And one should never ever underestimate the intoxicating appeal of not having to do the dishes.

Perhaps, just perhaps, not staying at home and spending time with people we love IS our tradition.  Just like throwing carrots on the roof for Santa’s reindeer, birthday cake for breakfast, and Thursday nights at the library, this, traveling Thanksgiving thing we do, IS what makes our family special.

As decisions go, being thankful for the love, support, and amazing people who call us family, that is perhaps a tradition I can live with for a long, long time.

What about you? What’s Thanksgiving look like in your house? Are you part of a blended family? Does that mean going over the river and through the woods, more than once a day? Do you look forward to it or would you, like me, rather be home in your stretchy pants in front of the TV?

Wendy Syler Woodward, 37, has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 11 and 16.  Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and is preparing to go back to college before the end of the year. 

5 Comments

  1. Rick

    November 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    This is the first year we haven’t had all the kids up for Thanksgiving, but 3 out of 4 isn’t bad. But the 4th has the grandkids, which is a bummer. At some point you go from being the guest to being the host, but I’m fuzzy on exactly when that starts.
    So, Wen, Justin & Dominic, we’ll set the table for you. Upstate New York is lovely (in a bleak sort of way) this time of year!

  2. Dawn B

    November 16, 2011 at 11:31 am

    fuzzy slippers and jammies wins out for me ANY day of the year, but…..
    I live very far from “my side” of the family… I don’t ever get to see them at holidays. It’s not a great feeling. I am thankful that I don’t have to drive but across our tiny town to get to my husband’s family Holiday dinners. I am glad I don’t have to host it, prepare for it or be happy about doing it. I am thankful my kids get to spend their childhoods with their cousins, aunts and uncles every holiday…I loved that growing up. I try to put on a happy front for them because I am happy that they get that.
    Holidays for me are hard, it’s a huge reminder of how far away my family is and how much I miss them. The holidays are just a stark reminder that this is not my family, I am an in-law and the affection they show me is not genuine, its obligatory at best. I only caught on to that in the last couple of years, so it is still very hurtful
    Where ever you go, safe travels and make the best of it. That is what I tell myself every year.

  3. Lynda V

    November 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Well, I promise not to add to your overwhelming options. For me, a quiet holiday is perfect. When I first moved out here everyone invited me to come be with their family for the holidays. Very well intentioned, but honestly, I LOVE having a quiet day off, where I feel guilt-free when I’m not productive. Jammies, junk food, Law & Order, naps. Perfect holiday.
    Now, stop worrying about what everyone else will think and just do what YOU want. Do you know what that is? Figure that out, and you’ll have the greatest holiday.

  4. A Wiki Editor

    November 17, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Worry? Now, now, you are accomplished and in charge.. this is a situation you can handle.

    Some of my favorite Thanksgivings were “bachelor” holidays with my dad. My mom would travel to see her parents (an expensive trip) and we would stay home.

    Rather than pick and choose, my dad would accept nearly every invitation. Our day was spend hopping from feast to feast, usually staying just long enough to drop off a hostess gift and pass along our greetings. It was always a lot of fun, and meant that we could come and go without getting dragged into any family drama with the various hosts. Did we have a Thanksgiving dinner? No. A few times, we actually ended up hitting a fast food joint for lunch (a forbidden pleasure, but mom was out of town.. so it was our little secret!) – it was unconventional and added to our “vagabond Thanksgiving” adventure.

    Those hosts still talk about that handful of years that we popped in for Thanksgiving. Good memories all around.

    Take a cue from my dad.. and embrace what you love.. and ditch the rest. Then revel in it. No apologies!

    (of course, gracious and clear RSVPs are in order however you decide to go with it.)

    Showing gratitude for this wonderful family of friends sounds like a great place to start.

  5. m.e. johnson

    November 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Wiki, would your dad consider adopting me?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Family & Home

Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

Copyright © 2017 Good Enough Mother® Designed By ABlackWebDesign