Last year I was supposed to finalize my divorce the day before Thanksgiving.
The process had been started 14 months earlier and was dragging on and on and on and I was very much looking forward to just getting everything wrapped up and being able to finally move on.
The day before we were supposed to finalize, my ex husband reneged on the terms of the agreement, and we were stalled.
I spiraled into a pretty good black hole.
This is never going to be finalized.
I can’t do this anymore.
We are never going to actually get divorced.
My ex and I were still living in the same house.
We had agreed to have Thanksgiving together at the house for the sake of the kids, but as far as Thanksgivings go, it was by far the worst one ever.
It was also during the pandemic, so my parents weren’t coming.
Since my parents weren’t coming, I decided I wasn’t cooking a turkey because I just couldn’t deal.
My parents are the ones who love turkey the most. My kids don’t even eat turkey.
And I wasn’t making one for my STBX.
I had told him I wasn’t making a turkey about a week earlier.
I was making a ham. Ham is basically foolproof, my kids love it, and I got one for free from the grocery store with the holiday promotion they were running.
At the time I believed I was staying in the house with the kids once the divorce was final.
I had no idea it would be my last Thanksgiving in my home and that three months later I’d be moving.
Because I spent a large part of the day crying in the bathroom.
It was just horrible.
If I had known it was the last Thanksgiving I’d spend there, I’m not sure I would have made it through the day.
All I could think of was how this was the last holiday for the kids as they had known everything their whole lives.
It was the beginning of the end.
I wasn’t looking at it as the beginning of a new beginning and new opportunities.
All I could see was sadness. Loss.
All I could think of was how I was disrupting the kids’ lives.
We hosted Thanksgiving at our house pretty much every year since we got married. It was way easier to have people come to the house when the kids were little than to pack 500 pounds of shit in the car and head to a non-baby-proofed house.
Plus I was pretty hard core about the kids’ nap schedules.
I never skipped naps.
Not even on holidays.
Anyway, even though we always hosted Thanksgiving, in the sixteen years we were married, my ex had never really participated in the preparation of the meal.
After a pretty brutal round of crying in the bathroom last year, I emerged around noon.
I figured I’d better start getting some food ready to eat.
My STBX was nowhere to be found.
I asked the kids if they knew where he had gone.
“He went to buy a turkey,” one of the kids told me.
Oh My God.
“What?” I said.
“He said he was going to buy a turkey,” my daughter told me again.
It was 12:15 on Thanksgiving day.
I laughed harder than I had laughed in a long, long time.
My STBX returned about an hour later.
He did not have a turkey.
I laughed again.
The Universe knew I needed a little levity.
I obviously survived the shittiest Thanksgiving ever.
Fast forward to this year.
This year things are so different.
It helped that the kids were with me this year on Thanksgiving.
But for the last ten years, we have gone to the same place the Friday after Thanksgiving to get our Christmas tree, and then the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, we always put the tree up and decorate it.
Going to Stew Leonards and walking around the Christmas Shop and taking a picture with Santa every year was a tradition!
We had to maintain the tradition!!!
But this year the kids would be with their father on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
We would have to adjust.
I was pretty sure they’d be going to the same place with my ex, so I suggested that maybe we try something different.
Maybe this was the perfect time for a new tradition.
The kids weren’t having any of it.
So we decided we’d go the day before Thanksgiving instead of the day after.
Around 6:30 pm we got to Stews.
And the Christmas Shop was CLOSED!
The kids were fine. I was more upset than they were.
We got some ice cream and did a little grocery shopping.
Then I went to work formulating a plan, because the next few weekends are full of traveling to swim meets, and Number 4 is only home until Monday morning, and she really wanted to decorate the tree with us before she went back to school.
A friend of mine had suggested a small, local farm a couple days earlier.
They were open today!
I got the turkey in the oven this morning, and then we headed to Halas Farm.
I’ve driven by this place a million times but I’ve never stopped in.
It’s a small, family-owned farm run mostly by a father and son. I think.
The whole family was there with a bunch of friends. They were having a family/friendsgiving, they had roasted a turkey outside and they were eating outside and the hanging with friends and also greeting customers.
They were basically having the quintessential New England Thanksgiving farm to table experience.
I was jealous. It looked pretty awesome.
They have a general store-ish set up there, and then there’s a SUPER CUTE Christmas shop. I coulda dropped a lot of money in there.
The kids loved it!
“THIS PLACE IS FIRE!” my son said.
We did a little browsing.
We got some treats and picked out a tree and took a few pictures.
You know what the kids said?
“Mom! We should go to this place every year now!”
So perhaps a new tradition has been born after all.
The kids learned that change is GOOD.
We came home and had a nice Thanksgiving meal with my parents.
And then we decorated the tree.
It was a great Thanksgiving!
I know not everyone was able to have a nice Thanksgiving with family and friends today.
I know some of you are having more of an experience like I had last year.
If you are separated or going through the divorce process and having a rough time during the holidays, I want you to know I GET IT.
I know how hard it is.
I know how bad it sucks.
I know it feels like it’s never going to get easier.
I know you think the kids are going to be devastated if traditions change or end.
I want to remind you that IT IS GOING TO GET BETTER.
One year ago I spent most of the day crying, not knowing how I was going to survive another day in divorce limbo and worried to death about the kids.
Today I had an amazing day with my kids.
A lot can change in a year.
And I don’t want to wish anything away, but I’m not gonna lie.
If my life can change this much in one year, I really can’t wait to see how fucking awesome things are gonna be next November.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.
Keep showing up.
There’s some good shit out there waiting for you when you do. 🧡