Singin’ the Poor-Me Blues

I used to love the holidays. I planned and cooked and decorated, and looked forward to a house filled with tradition, good smells, and the laughter of family.

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.

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4 Responses to Singin’ the Poor-Me Blues

  1. souldipper says:

    My heart goes out to you, big time, PattiKen.

    Acceptance comes about as fast as frozen molasses when it comes to matters of the heart! I’ve had to stop my expectations for holidays as well. In Canada, Thanksgiving is not celebrated to the extent the USA does, but Christmas is the time for “ouch” and “slouch”.

    These years, I plan to hunker down with a roaring fire and good stuff to do or read. If invitations are forthcoming, that’s okay, but I don’t count on it. If I wanted to have lots of people around, I could plan to cook up a storm which is not my forte. So, the consequences are low stress, little hassle and a chance to find little ways to surprise folks who I otherwise would not engage with.

    Blessings on your transition – however it will be.

    • PattiKen says:

      Thank you, Amy. I suspect we aren’t alone. It’s just another of those passages we must make in life. I know I’m just feeling sorry for myself. I’ve been very fortunate. My kids all like each other, and we have kept the “family” thing going longer than many families do. And I certainly understand that they want to build their own family traditions. Still, it smarts, doesn’t it?

      P.S. Cooking up a storm doesn’t always work. It is a good appetite suppressant though. I seldom feel like eating much of that big meal I’ve spent hours preparing.

  2. I so know what you mean, Patti. For years and years I did the “obligatory xmas”, many times wishing I was free to go help out at a soup kitchen, spend it with friends, or do something really meaningful with the day. Family traditions do, over time, become obligations. I think it would be FANTASTIC for you to simply announce “we’re off to Floriday early this year” and go. I’d do it in a New York minute 🙂 And…when you get there….? send me a postcard. With flamingoes on it! hee hee.

    • PattiKen says:

      Ah, I’m just not ready to let go yet, Sherry The holidays are almost the only time I get to see my kids. But right after the first of the year, we are out of here. Send my your snail mail address off-line and I’ll be sure to send you a post card!

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