Dad always said, when he had a catch in his back or something, that he had a "hitch in his get-along." I feel like I have a hitch in my holidays.
When I was a kid, we didn't really have the holidays you saw on TV or in the movies. We didn't string popcorn or sing Christmas carols. There was rarely a turkey at Thanksgiving or a tree at Christmas. We loved each other, but it was just the 4 of us and it seemed silly to them, I guess, to celebrate. They were older and my brother was 12 when I was born. We didn't have much money, or a nice spot to put a tree or even a big table to gather around. It would have been like "faking it," I think. Maybe that's why I'm a big fan of "faking it 'til you make it?" I longed for those holidays I saw on TV. For a birthday party or the ability to believe in Santa or even just dying Easter eggs. Longed for the thankfulness of the season and carving the turkey. I always dreamed of standing around a big kitchen with loved ones and cooking all day or playing touch football in the crisp autumn air before dinner.
Over the years, life has changed me, changed what I want. I tried hard to make the holidays like a movie once I got married, but without children, it just seemed like nothing ever turned out. By then, I had an over idealized version in my head no one could live up to. Including me. So many holidays were spent alone, it became the norm. Especially after my husband passed, there was a lot of alone time, not just at the holidays. I adapted. Adapted so well that I'm not sure I know how to be part of a family anymore. In my head I think I still want to and I try, but I always end up feeling like I don't belong. Like I don't know "how to family" anymore.
I psyche myself up for gatherings. I look forward to them and I dread them, in equal measure. Once I'm there, the people are always lovely and it's nice to have friends and extended family to be around, but after a few hours, I usually can't help but try to figure out how to extricate myself. That's not a reflection on any of them, but of me. I really don't know how to not be alone anymore. I've never thought of myself as anti-social, but I started to wonder.
I worried whether I'd every re-learn how to be with people without trying to sneak off or leave early. I just couldn't figure it out. I wanted nothing more in life to be a part of a family and I think I still do, but my actions are puzzling to me. Am I too old to adapt anymore?
Well, I answered that question this week. I'm NOT too old! I had two fantastic gatherings this week with wonderful people and I have another tomorrow that I'm excited about...cousins I haven't seen in decades.
Moving back home was probably the single best thing I could've ever done for myself. I still have a way to go, though...learning how not to always be alone. But I'm working on it!
I guess the moral of the story is twofold: you're never too old to learn and you are not a tree - if you need to make a change, DO IT!
Alternative moral of the story: when you find yourself self-analyzing in the wee hours, GO TO SLEEP and don't inflict it on others. LOL!
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