Our Thanksgiving has never been traditional. Growing up I had my fill of that. Cooking all day, setting the tables, family, displaced college students, friends of my parents. All followed by dish washing to the power of ten, tired and very cranky parents, too many people crammed in our house.
After we moved to Pittsburgh and suffered through a couple of friend Thanksgivings, we settled into our own thing. A morning round of cooking our favorite foods, in pajamas. The rest of the day watching movies or football, reading, playing games, or whatever we wanted, in our pajamas. Paper plates, plastic cups, naps, cuddles, quiet, laughter, recharge, our day has it all. Moving twenty hours closer to our hometown hasn’t changed our tradition at all.
We didn’t plan it that way, we thought we’d be seeing much more family. However, a few years in we realized it wasn’t any different from Pennsylvania. Everyone was happy to see us when we made the twelve hour drive, each way. We were exhausted.
We like spending time with family but quickly got tired of always making the drive. After two years we slid right back into our comfortable tradition. Today we celebrated again. We laughed together, argued, cooked, and napped.
This morning while I was lazing in bed, I thought about the things I’m thankful for this year. Too many to count, really. In past years, that feeling of gratitude has terrified me. Always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Perhaps I’m most thankful for the change in my perspective. After spending so many years trying to ensure that other people love me, I finally understand it all hinges on loving myself. So many people say it, in an offhand manner.
“You can’t love anyone until you love yourself.”
I would have argued, “If you have energy left to love yourself, you’re doing it wrong.”
I would have declared it until I was blue in the face, until that year arrived that I couldn’t love anyone. I laid on my bed, unable to move without excruciating pain and wished someone would take care of me, someone would love me. I cried so angrily with the realization that only I would do that. It was so much easier loving other people. I was so angry at everyone.
What I’m beginning to understand now? My love is the only love I wanted. Only I could give myself exactly what I needed. Only I can fill those cracks with acceptance. Only I know how to open my heart again and share an honest love that comes from a bottomless, bubbling spring, not some rusty bucket I beg others to fill.
And all that brings me to you. All you crazy people who read and comment and for some reason, beyond comprehension, recognize something in me as a kindred soul. Thank you for giving me feathers for my wings, and a soft place to land.