A Christmas Thank You to Nana

Nana, you did something so beautiful by raising my mom the way you did. You may not realize it, but it freed me.

You instilled values so deep, my mom chose the hard way instead of the easy way forward. As a result, I no longer feel I must do what is culturally expected of me. I feel free to explore what I am here to do. Maybe you didn’t realize this is what would happen, but for your part, I am infinitely thankful.

I’m also thankful you taught my mom cleanliness and care for her style and appearance that she passed on to me.

You taught her manners and the value of education, which she taught me.

You taught her to caringly cook for everyone.

You introduced her to nutrition and supplements. And she did this for me.

You showed us the simple joy in coffee and in saunas.

You taught us to love holidays, celebrations and traditions.

And for all these things and more, I am thankful.

Merry Christmas. I love you, Nana.

Letting Go of Holiday Expectations

Many people experience stress from expectations of what the holidays should be like. I remember one of my favorite Thanksgivings was when I spent the day alone. I ate a pumpkin pie. I worked out and read and wrote and spent time outside. Letting go of what many people think the holiday should be allowed me to have a wonderful day, even if it wasn’t traditional. As a baby of divorce, I learned this perspective the hard way. Many of my holidays were not nearly so pleasant. The worst Thanksgiving I remember was when my mom was taken to jail the day before Thanksgiving (for a crime she did not commit that is not punishable with jail, even if she had been guilty). On that Thanksgiving, I visited my little sister at the emergency foster care center she was taken to and then some family friends drove me from the Canadian border to North Carolina. I tried to eat Subway from a gas station. I don’t think I’ve ever cried more than I did on that specific day. Now, most anything that happens on a holiday feels quite lovely to me. And I’m hoping you all can recognize how beautiful your holidays are, even if you’re in the midst of some chaos or feeling like you’re alone or suffering.