Here comes Thanksgiving again–and pie!

Thanksgiving is almost here again. Do you dread it? Me too, probably for different reasons. I’ll be in California, taking care of my dad and driving him three hours each way to my brother’s house, where I will be surrounded by in-laws I barely know and oodles and boodles of kids. I’ll be the odd widowed sister/aunt hanging with her father while the men watch football and the women gather in the kitchen.

I’m sure you have heard about the fires blazing in California. Horrible. Whichever route I take from Oregon, I’ll be driving through smoke and devastation. I feel a little guilty for everything I still have, and I feel that I have no right to whine about anything, so I won’t. Instead, I’m going to be grateful. I urge you to do the same.

I know how hard it is being surrounded by children and their parents who don’t understand why you aren’t parents, too, who don’t get that it’s a painful subject which may be far from resolved. You’re likely to hear clueless comments about how you’re rich because you don’t have kids or how you’d better get pregnant soon because you’re not getting any younger. You may be dealing with stepchildren who don’t seem to enjoy your company.

And don’t get me started on the TV commercials with all those happy families.

I urge you to read the comment that came in recently from the woman who worries about finding a man who will understand that she can’t give them children because pregnancy makes her horribly sick. You think you’ve got troubles?

No matter what our situation, we do have things to be thankful for, such as:

  • The people we love
  • Our homes and everything in them
  • Our health, if we have it
  • Food
  • Clean water
  • Heat
  • Our beloved pets
  • Our work
  • Our hobbies
  • Books, art, music
  • God, if you believe
  • Each other
  • A chance to start fresh every morning

We don’t have everything we want. Nobody does. But think about the people of Paradise, California. They have lost their homes and their whole town. At last count, 50 people had died, some of them incinerated in their cars while they were trying to get away. In Southern California, others are going through the same thing. They have a right to mourn this Thanksgiving.

We have an obligation to help however we can and to celebrate the lives we still have. If you’re surrounded by babies, grab the nearest one and marvel at the miracle of this tiny person with her tiny toes and her toothless smile. Maybe you’ll have one of your own, maybe not, but this baby is here right now, grabbing onto your finger, snuggling against your chest. Enjoy.

I know. Easier to say than to do. If you need to take a time out, do it. Run away to nature, take a walk around the neighborhood, or excuse yourself for an emergency shopping trip. Don’t we always need more wine? Then take a deep breath, count the hours till it’s over, go back in, and pet the nearest dog.

And if you happen to be alone, put on your favorite clothes, treat yourself to a good meal, watch a movie, and enjoy the peace and quiet.

I am always grateful for you who read this blog. I might miss you next week while I’m in the land of no wi-fi, gorging on pumpkin pie, but I’ll be reading your comments. Can you add to the gratitude list? How about pie? I’m extremely grateful for pie.

Happy Thanksgiving.

P.S. We can do more than be grateful. We can help. Here’s some information on how to help the fire victims. 

 

 

 

 

 

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No kids? Find a new dream

Dear friends,

I spent four days last week on the road at the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon. I have gone to this conference many times, but rarely have I come away feeling so inspired. The workshops I took, the connections I made, and the friends I spent time with all gave me new energy for my work. There were hundreds of us at the Doubletree Hotel. Many were parents or grandparents. Many were married. Many had jobs doing other things besides writing. But I didn’t see any of that. There were no family groups to make me feel left out. No kid-centric conversations. For those four days, we were all writers. Nobody felt left out or different; we all shared a passion for words and books, from the high school kid who writes about rock stars to the 80-year-old writing a murder mystery.

I can go to events like the conference because I don’t have anyone except my dog to take care of. A phone call brings my trusted dog-sitter, and I’m free to go. If I had children, it would be more difficult. Not impossible, but tricky. When my husband was ill, I had a hard time getting away even to run a few errands. What I’m saying is being on your own is not all bad.

Most parents wait until their kids are grown to follow their own dreams. A lot of people who want to write don’t start until retirement. But you and I can do it now. Whatever your passion is, dive into it. Following your passion for whatever interests you can take your mind off your lack of children, put you together with people who share that passion, and give you a new purpose for your life. I know many of you wanted to be parents and wrapped your lives around that dream, but sometimes we have to find a new dream. If it’s something you and your partner can share, all the better. My motorcycle-riding cousin and his wife come to mind.

Maybe you’re still trying to figure out whether or not you’ll have children. But why not find something you love to do while you’re figuring it out?

***

As you may know, I’ve been transitioning from my old Childless by Marriage blog site to this new one. The last few posts have been published at both www.childlessbymarriageblog.com and www.childlessbymarriage.blogspot.com. An unfortunate side-effect is that the comments I receive on one site do not appear on the other. I don’t know how to remedy this except to share the most interesting comments in my posts.

So, in response to last week’s Maybe It’s Time to Reassess, about finding things to be grateful for, Anonymous wrote:

I agree, we all should count our blessings. To get through a grief period this year, I started keeping a diary and forced myself to write down at least one thing per day, that I was grateful for. After 6 months, it really turned my attitude around. Now I can fill up a page of things I am grateful for, even though my career did not turn out as planned, and I did not have children. Here are a few things I’m grateful about today: 1) I slept the entire night without waking up or having hot flashes; 2)my husband’s hug before he left for work; 3) the weather is beautiful and cooler like we are entering Fall; 4) my sisters, my niece, and still having my mom in my life; 5) my boss took the day off and I can feel at peace at my job; and 6) my bunny is happy and excited every time he sees me. All this and it’s only 8:39 a.m. Can’t wait to see what else happens throughout the day that makes me feel blessed.

I am grateful for all of you.

Sue