Increasingly, the holidays have become a time of anxiety and loss.
We have a condo in Florida, a sanctuary from the deep freeze that New England usually becomes in the winter. Just after the first of the year, we pack up ourselves and the cats, and head south. Somewhere around South Carolina, the coats come off, and we say goodbye to the cold for another year.
We have many friends in Florida, people who live there full-time and other snowbirds like ourselves. They all ask why we don’t go down earlier. My answer is always, “we would have a mutiny in the family if we weren’t around for the holidays.” But I’m coming to realize that is wishful thinking on my part.
The kids are all grown and have families of their own. With each passing year, it has become more obvious to me that they want to do their own thing during the holidays, and I suspect they view coming here as an obligation.
Each year, I issue my usual hope-filled light-hearted invitations, and each year, the replies take longer to come. There are excuses and waffling, and though we usually work it out, it’s a painful process.
This year, the invitation to Thanksgiving dinner, tendered well in advance, was met by a definite “No,” an “I don’t know,” and silence. I know when Christmas planning rolls around, there will be a lot of jockeying to find a date to accommodate everyone. And all the while, my stomach will hurt and my heart will ache.
It was inevitable, I guess, but it’s still hard to accept.
It’s time. Time to let go. Time to move on to the next phase of our lives. And perhaps time to go to Florida in October.
I hate the holidays.