Although in recent holidays past I had little contact with my mother, I knew she was alive, or I guessed she was alive, and that gave me some comfort.
I always assumed everyone's life was like mine, full of the roller coaster rides of pain, joy, disappointments and celebrations. As I talked about my life to friends, I was always amazed that they rarely had the same sort of life. Some had similar challenges, all had their own hurdles to jump, but the jaws on their desks were a clue that maybe my life stories were either more forth coming and I needed a better filter when I shared or maybe my life really was a bit more crazy than most.
The past several Thanksgivings I have spent alone, mostly by choice.
I had invitations to go to other families meals but it seemed an invasion on their traditions. They made their memories long before they met me and with my baggage, I didn't want to insert the memory of that "poor lonely lady" into their tradtion. Even without saying a word, just a smile and "thank you for inviting me", the very fact I was there alone indicated a problems in my current family life. This didn't belong in a happy family situation.
It made more sense to me to send my little guy with his dad, who has lots of family that gathers for the Thanksgiving Feast, to make memories like I had from my childhood.
I chose to sit with my snuggy, remote and TV dinner or go to a movie, imposing on no one. In Austin, the Alamo Draft House offeres Thanksgiving meals on real plates with real forks that clink all through the movie with offerings of the traditional feast. I decided this was going to be my new tradtion, as it usually was also my birthday celebration. It wasn't bad. It was actually kinda nice to sit with a group of other people, to my way of thinking, who were mostly alone like me, and share a meal in the dark with them while watching a B grade re-release.
This year, it feels like the last of my family that helped solidify the traditions from my childhood is gone.
Mom, although robbed of her memories by Alzheimer's almost a decade ago, played a huge role in my bigger than life recall of how I became the person I am today. Not so big of a life that I could brag about my accomplishments but I became a survivor, much like her. I have never given up and stage right holds my alternative plan if the current one fails.
This Thanksgiving will be spent with a friend and her 95 year old father. They will be my family this year. Separate, we would each be alone. The three of us a family we will make, at least this year. I may have a new memory each year and I have decided that is okay. There is nothing wrong with change, if I can embrass the changes. At my age, I better learn to embrass change or I will only be fighting with myself, Mother Nature is not going to lose this battle, never has, never will.
This year I am thankful God gave me the mother I had. If I had any other mother, I would be such a different person. Heaven forbid, I could have been boring!
A flip of the cosmic coin on whether I would be a better or worse person but not worth spending more than this sentence thinking about. For all the pain, all the joy, all the love, teaching me to never give up by example, for all the challenges offered by my mother, I am truly grateful and Mom, I love you, always and until forever.