Childless or Not, This Thanksgiving Will Be Different

Annie is not worried about Thanksgiving–as long as I share the turkey with her.

It’s the day before Thanksgiving. I’ve got a turkey defrosting in the refrigerator, but otherwise nothing is normal about the holiday. I will not be with my family this year. “Aunt Sue” will not see the little ones, not get those wonderful hugs, or hang out sharing family stories. On the other hand, she won’t feel left out because she’s the only one there who doesn’t have kids.

I’ll be spending the day at home with a friend whose husband died a few months ago. She has grown children, but they’re in Connecticut and California, and two of them have COVID. As the number of COVID cases soars, my friend and I will stay in our own two-person bubble and celebrate the best we can. I have no doubt we will argue over everything from from how to make the gravy to which movie to watch after dinner. Just like family. But we won’t be alone, and for that, I’m thankful.

This year, everyone’s holidays will be different, or they should be. Just because your relatives are family doesn’t mean they aren’t carrying the virus. Stay home. Keep it small. The grown children of three of my friends have COVID. One is in the hospital, very serious. Another friend has an eight-month-old grandchild she has not yet been able to meet because she can’t travel to Colorado. It’s tough for all of us, but maybe those of us without children are lucky not to experience that extra pain of separation from our kids.

I didn’t plan to preach, but this is frightening. We have had a huge surge of COVID here in Oregon, including right here where I live. We are in lockdown again. I feel as if we are at war.

At the same time, we have a lot to be thankful for. That we have friends and family to worry about. That this won’t last forever. For our health if we have it. For food and shelter, if we have those. For a chance to discover new ways to connect and to help each other. For our Childless by Marriage community. You are not alone.

I am thankful that the new book, Love or Children, created from these blog posts and your comments, will be out before Christmas. Put it on your wish list.

I will be extremely grateful if that turkey in my fridge is truly defrosted by tomorrow morning. I haven’t had anyone to cook a turkey for in over a decade, so I’m out of practice. The new situation has made it possible for me to finally host a Thanksgiving dinner.

Look at the upside if you possibly can. There is one. How about if we all meet someplace warm and tropical next Thanksgiving? That would be something to look forward to.

You can read more about my Thanksgivings past and present at my Unleashed in Oregon blog.

So, tell us about your Thanksgiving. How is it different this year? How is it the same? What are you thankful for?

6 thoughts on “Childless or Not, This Thanksgiving Will Be Different

  1. I hope you and your friend have the best Thanksgiving you can have, given the circumstances. As a Brit, I don’t do Thanksgiving but I’m thankful for the posts on your blog and grateful to you, for providing this safe place for us to join in. Yesterday our government announced the rules for Christmas and we are all pondering what is safe and wise for us to do. As a friend said, just because you are ‘allowed’ to do 70mph it doesn’t mean that you *have* to, especially if it is foggy or slippy or you have precious cargo in the car with you.

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  2. Hope your turkey was amazing!!

    I work with the public and so I know that many people are separated from family this year and gravely missing them. I was able to gather with my family this year as we’re all local, healthy and comfortable with being together.

    My husband’s family opted to not meet and we found ourselves relieved. It almost seemed that we might all still get together, and I panicked a bit inside. At my parents’ house, my brother’s kids are late teens and a joy to talk to as almost adults. As my once strict parents age, they are becoming more fun and they are sharing more about their childhoods. It’s healing to be in their presence.

    However, at my husband’s family’s gatherings, I feel very . . . inadequate. And conflicted. And stressed.

    All those little kids, all the family talk, all the one-upping to witness. Finally all the patronizing questions and comments, “SO, how is your little business going?” “You look good, I wish I had TIME to go to the gym.” Feeling less than because I only show up with one covered dish and one of the “moms” has found time to make two or three even. Of course the ever present issue of avoiding that one awful in-law and trying to steer clear of her amazing children who are completely innocent in their mother’s view of us. Trying to prop up a mother-in-law who doesn’t see the toxic behaviours in her family. Watching father-in-law and trying to gauge when we can slip out of the party and not have to deal with his drinking.

    I guess what I am saying is that COVID has blessed me this particular holiday. I’m sick and tired of state mandates, wearing a mask and all the rules. The sadness of hearing of people afflicted with the virus is overwhelming at times. I miss my friends. I miss my “happy places.” But family is not always “everything” and yesterday I was quite happy to have an excuse to spend the bulk of the day in the peace of my own happy home.

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    • Thanks for sharing your Thanksgiving story, Anon S. My turkey was amazing. I can’t believe how good it came out. My friend and I had a wonderful day full of love and way too much food. So in some ways, COVID blessed us, too.

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  3. As Jo said, we don’t do Thanksgiving over here in Europe, yet our family will always remember this one.
    My father-in-law had a liver transplantation this Thursday night. He’s been waiting for this for a long time. We all felt excited, happy and worried at the same time. It’s a strange feeling that the same night caused a family great pain and grief, and another family hope.
    There was someone else on the transplant list before him who would have fit for this liver, but that patient tested positive for COVID.
    My prayers are both with the family who lost their loved one and this patient who was deprived from this chance because of the pandemic.
    I hope this new liver will mean more in my father-in-law’s life than just physical improvement. I would love it if he found a way back to his children and could connect again. I would love my husband to have some good memories with his father and experience something good about fatherhood.
    Yes, here is the “me” side of the story: sometimes I still hope my husband would change his mind and want to become a father.

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    • Darinka, thank you for sharing this. It is a mix of emotions, so I don’t know whether to say congratulations or I’m sorry or pass it off with something lame like “it’s all in God’s hands.” So I’ll just send a big virtual hug. May your father-in-law recover his health and spend quality time with his son.

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