It’s Ok to Have a Shitty Thanksgiving

Take it from me, an orphan. I’ve spent many Thanksgiving’s alone, in drive thru’s and/or totally miserable. I’ve also spent the holidays with my sister and friends, surrounded by love and delicious food that I most certainly did not make. While I would prefer the latter, this year I am choosing to keep my ass at home, with my dog, where I will attempt to make a solo feast unsuitable for the diet I am now on, thanks to quarantine.

This has been a shitty year for everyone, especially for those of us who have socially distanced, worn our masks, washed our hands until they cracked and bled, canceled vacations, weddings, celebrations, and various life events we were looking forward to. We’ve been forced to mourn the loss of loved ones over Zoom, FaceTime, and at smaller, socially-distanced funerals. Or we haven’t been able to say goodbye at all.

If you’re like me, your heart, while still beating, has been broken. You’re tired, you’re worn out, all you want is to gather with your family and friends, for things to feel “normal” again. I get it. I get it so much I wish I could take you into my arms and give you the hug we both desperately need.

Unfortunately, Covid isn’t over. Things are worse than they’ve ever been and we can’t give up now. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines are on the horizon and their effectiveness is promising. What’s not promising is this Covid fatigue we’re all experiencing. Now is not the time to say “Screw it, I’m done with this.” Covid is still floating around, largely in part to the people who never took this seriously in the first place. We are suffering from their actions, or inaction, rather. It’s not fair, it’s not right, but it is our reality.

Like I said, I don’t have parents. No one is putting pressure on me to return home or even worse — telling me this is all a hoax. I know it hurts to tell friends and family you won’t be visiting now or anytime soon. For the past eight months, I have been separated from my sister, who is disabled and lives in a group home. Like many people living in a care home, she is confined to her room with the exception of using the bathroom and showering, to avoid contact and potential spread with the other residents.

My sister doesn’t understand why I can’t take her in the car anymore or why we haven’t hugged since March 7th. The last time I visited, it was through a window. I played her favorite Winnie the Pooh song on my phone and danced while my heart ached.

This pandemic has been painful and life-altering for everyone. As one human to another, I feel your loneliness, your struggle, your anger and frustration. It is okay that you are feeling all of these things, it is more than okay, it’s to be expected. Everything sucks right now. I do believe it is temporary, as everything is. I have faith that we will get past this, we just have to hang in there a little bit longer.

Faith is believing in things you can’t see. What gets me through the day is fantasizing about hugging my sister and friends and laughing when they ask me to let them go. I envision the meals we’ll share, the vacations we’ll take. I imagine the job I’ll have again to be able to pay for such things. Mostly, I imagine being with the people I love once again. Just being. This Thanksgiving, I am staying home because I value my health and I value yours.

By the way, being alone doesn’t have to be shitty. It can be awesome. You can stay in bed all day, eat whatever you want, watch whatever you want. Enjoy not having to talk to the relatives who would normally get on your last nerve. If you’ve lost someone this year or any other, give yourself the space to cry or feel whatever it is that you’re feeling. It’s okay to have a shitty Thanksgiving. We put so much pressure on ourselves to put on a smile during the holidays when we’re feeling anything but happy. Embrace the shit. This is life. How lucky we are to still be here.

Mother Teresa once said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” This year, if you want to change the world, stay home.

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