Celebrating Gratitude

This Thanksgiving:

  • Bob and Genny (names changed) went to Las Vegas – with their 2 young adult single children – and shopped and golfed.
  • My cousin had 10 of her 14 grandchildren over her house with her own children and their spouses — and yes, cooked the dinner and had them all stay multiple days!
  • My fabulous girlfriend Karen and husband Brad had her granddaughter, her granddaughter’s husband and their two little boys under 3 for nearly a week. It was madness at some level with two tiny little ones, but special and necessary.
  • My sister came and stayed for a week — the longest we have seen each other in one visit in more than 30 years.

It was very much Thanksgiving as it was a unique holiday surrounded by some (and in some cases NONE) of the traditions like football, cranberry sauce and turkey dinner.

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A less traditional Thanksgiving

I felt especially grateful not to be young this holiday because it gave not just me, but many of my friends and family, the freedom to custom design their Thanksgiving holiday.

Genny still works full-time and in her time off wanted to be just with immediate family not an extended house-full. As an apartment dweller driving hours to an event totally food-centered with a multi-hour drive home just didn’t make the cut.

My cousin is a family-centered woman — always a working professional she loves the hustle and bustle of all her children and grandchildren with her at Thanksgiving. She has kept moving to smaller homes – but there is always room at her house when it is Thanksgiving.

My friend’s granddaughter has a troubled relationship with her own mom and my friend often is her “real mom”. While tiring, my friend just knows how important it is to support her granddaughter and great granddaughters at holiday time.

My sister and I spent relaxed time together – we had our nails and hair done together – cooked and watched The Roosevelts on TV — it was just what we needed with both our 2015 packed with some major changes.

I didn’t miss doing what I had done in the past: picking up my suitcase that I had brought to the office so I could work till the last minute before jumping a plane to either my sister’s or my parent’s house for Thanksgiving. While I certainly enjoyed seeing my family, I was often worrying about pressing business and personal issues that I allowed to continually bother me no matter the occasion. I celebrated holidays when young — but I never enjoyed them in quite the same way I do now where each holiday is slightly or in a major way different and related to what is happening in my life right now.

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Something I didn’t miss

This is absolutely one of the best parts of being over 60. Maybe younger people do not feel all the obligations we did — but life WAS different for us. Our families had dozens more rules and expectations of our role at holiday time. One didn’t suggest bagging the turkey for a roast, much less decide to skip one’s aunts and uncles houses. While I have truly wonderful memories of the Thanksgiving while growing up and being a young adult in the 50s, 60s, and 70s — I truly love the freedom of modern life and being less pressured. There really is no perfect photo anymore that says ‘here is what a happy Thanksgiving looks like’ — it really is whatever you can dream of, afford, need to do just this year and have energy to do — and even in tough times that’s a lot of leeway.

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Let me suggest you take the opportunity to make every holiday unique – filling it with what you know is the absolutely perfect thing to do – but only for the current holiday in front of you. Being fabulous means being flexible and open to celebrating in ways that open our hearts and let us sleep longer and more soundly – who isn’t grateful for that?

Patty