Holidays Don't Fill Holes


Holidays make me self-conscious. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I felt like I should’ve been more thankful than I was. Aren’t you supposed to be most thankful on that day? I wasn’t, and I never am. That feels sinful to say, like I’m exposing the underbelly of a holiday built around family and gratitude where everyone calls a truce on backhanded compliments and eye rolling for 24 hours. It’s not that Thanksgiving is a bad day, it’s just not a day that leaves me feeling most thankful which leaves me feeling like I missed a step in the “how to have a happy holiday" recipe.

I think it’s because I’ve believed that recipe is one that if followed correctly will fill some holes, and holidays don’t fill holes. If anything, holidays expose the holes. And yet, year after year I’ve attempted the same recipe only to yield the same results. But it was my dad who said something that made me lay down the expectations and pressure and anxiety. He said “I understand we’re not all where we want to be, but we’re here together”. He was referencing “the holes”, specifically the hole of grief and the toll it takes on us individually and as a family. And he’s right. We’re all back to work and school and living life. We’re not at a point where our holes are bringing our lives to a screeching halt, but they still trip us up some days, especially on days like yesterday. And I was most thankful for those words of truth and perspective spoken over us.

That’s probably why I didn’t get my feathers ruffled when at some point long after the food and naps, Dad decided he wanted to sit by the fire and smoke a cigar while Austin and I settled in for a Modern Family marathon. Eventually Austin left to meet up with friends, Dad continued sitting by the fire, and I searched the house for a book I had misplaced which I still haven’t found. And that’s how the night ended and in some ways that’s how the entire day played out too. There were moments where we were together and moments where we were alone in the same house. There were moments where we talked and laughed and moments where we didn’t. We’ve had more fun and memorable moments as a family than yesterday, and I’ve decided that’s okay.

I’m all for holidays and embrace everything they represent. It’s a good thing to live in a world where we can celebrate Christ’s birth and resurrection, give a shout out to love, and honor the freedom we’ve been given and those who have fought to give it to us. I’ve just decided to follow a new recipe. One where I can decorate and participate in the festivities and not expect it to fill the holes for me.

In fact, maybe I’ll start a holiday honoring the holes since we’ve all got ones. HOLE-iday. Too much. Bad idea. But I think you get the point—I’ll celebrate and give thanks for lots of things, including the holes.