This is a tough time of year for me.

Family time growing up wasn’t perfect.  Holidays always had the appearance of “happy” – all the trappings were there – but life with an alcoholic parent is ______ (fill in the blank).  I’m not going back there.  Dad left us 30 years ago and I don’t know where he is now.  Mom died 22 years ago.  I have one  brother who doesn’t want to be in contact.  He had a worse experience with our father than I did, so I think he just wanted a new life away from all of us.

I always knew things would be different when I had my own family.

Married a great guy.  Started to make plans for the family, and about five years into the marriage, realized there was a problem.  Took a couple of years to get the diagnosis – I’m infertile. Explored the foster parent/adoption route, but we decided not to do it for reasons I won’t discuss here.   (FYI – that was the beginning of my period of self-neglect.)  So our kids are dogs.  Dakota and Max have passed.  Peanut and Tippy live here now.

We followed an opportunity and moved to a new place we love, but it is about 1700 miles away from our relatives.

Some years we have people over for Thanksgiving.  Some years we are invited over.  Usually, we spend the day with just us.  Quiet and relaxing, but a little sad for me because I always wanted that “family” thing that just didn’t work out.

And to make things just a little more “real” in my reality, I’m a teacher.  It doesn’t matter where you teach, there will be kids who aren’t going to have great holidays.  They are pretty easy to spot.  They are the ones who aren’t really excited about a long vacation.  But I teach at a Title I school that provides three meals a day.  So when we have vacations, I worry about the kids who need those three free meals a day.  They are worried, too.  It changes behavior right before vacations.  They may act out.  They may withdraw.  Weird stuff happens because they don’t know how to handle the stress they are feeling.  And weird stuff happened this week.

So tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, we are going to make a meal for just the two of us and relax.  Enjoy each other’s company.

Counting blessings?  I do that a lot normally.  So for this holiday, the things I’m counting may not seem like blessings to you, but 24 hours from now, you might see my point…

1) No crazy in-laws.

2) No ungrateful teenagers.

3) Not a lot of preparation, so not a lot of stress.

4) Not a lot of dishes to clean.

5) We don’t shop, so no crazy Black Friday silliness.

6) Roof, electricity, washer/dryer combo, tech toys…you know, the usual.

7) A very nice hubby and cuddly fur kids.

I’m going to try to get hubby to play board games with me tomorrow.  Almost 17 years of marriage and he won’t play with me because I’m too competitive.  I have very low expectations for the success of my mission.  But I’ve done harder stuff.   If we end up eating, watching movies, and napping – that’s OK, too.

So…anyone else have a less than perfect track record with holidays?  C’mon peeps.  Dysfunctional is the new normal.

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