How many parents and baby boomers do you think are saying, "I AM NOT GOING to do all that shopping, cooking and having house guests next year for Thanksgiving? I am exhausted and feel unappreciated." Well, I can tell you I received calls and emails from empty nesters and boomers with that message after drop offs at airports and kitchen counters were wiped down from the last morsel of vegan stuffing and sausage stuffing.
Don't expect to get to the bigger picture, like that of a view from your room, until your TEARS DROP, sore back and feet stop throbbing and you release, by telling your story of this year's Thanksgiving.
No matter how much you tell yourself FAMILY matters, FRIENDSHIPS matter, and TRADITIONS must live on, when you feel over spent and disappointed, you can't see life with a view. You notice:
? Kids don't clean the kitchen every time they eat.
? They drink and talk too loud.
? They never ask about your life.
? They don't make their bed the way you would.
? Partners don't clean enough.
? Partners don't anticipate what is needed next.
? Parents visiting parents roll their eyes at how the grandchildren behave or don't behave.
? Friends drop by when you want them to keep on driving since you just put all the food away.
? The hot water heater won't crank out anymore warmth.
? Meaningful conversations get interrupted with needs.
? Thank you feels like sleep walking.
? And your pants are now too tight.
The BIGGER PICTURE is the chaos; the smells of rosemary and fireplaces, and the climbing into bed, knowing everyone got time with each other under one roof. The bigger, bigger picture is you get to change traditions after you see and feel the view, and the bigger, bigger, bigger picture is, everyone has EXPECTATIONS of happy holidays, HOPES FOR LOVE, tears of LOSSES, and the need for real connections with people who hold your history and appreciate YOU BEING PART of their life.
I can't tell you how many people share with me that they just AREN'T THEMSELVES around holidays and family. They get quiet. They talk too much because they are nervous. They feel competitive for praise and brilliance.
They make mistakes that hurt people. They have moments of fun and laughter during game time and talking about how great the food is this year. They gossip because they don't know what else to do. They feel unattractive and judged. Left out of conversations like when they were younger. Under appreciated because they didn't ask for help nor were able to let go of what Thanksgiving needs to look like. Some carry tears that this could be the last holiday together or they miss loved ones who have died. I am sure you can add to this list of what is true for you during Thanksgiving without any effort. We have so many parts to ourselves like the queen, the athlete, the organizer, the brain, the chef, the philosopher, and inner voices that aren't Grammy winning sounds and instead are needy, critical, perfectionist, or destructive. The reality of what is NOW gets stormy.
One child shared with me that he loves the family and WALKS ON EGG SHELLS when he comes home from college. He can't get into being around authority and siblings, and yet, is excited when he first walks in the house and feels the safety of home and having no school or social responsibilities.
He said it so sweetly, " IT IS AS IF I HAVEN'T GROWN UP at all or at least I feel that way when I come back home. I shrink and disappoint. I know they love me and I love them. It just gets messed up."
Until next Thanksgiving, may memories remind you what matters and what doesn't, so you can get to your bigger picture and have a room with a view.
Take good care,
Natalie Caine M.A.
Empty Nest Support Services
(800) 446-3310 or (818) 763-0188
On the web www.emptynestsupport.com
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