Please Let Me Have Thanksgiving

Having a lot of thoughts tonight and this whole week, really. 

This was just going to just be a Facebook post, but apparently the wine I have been drinking tonight says otherwise.

I started off by wanting to share my “depression anthem” with everyone:

My parents introduced me to this song last Christmas, and it became my go-to for the first half of the year when I was feeling depressed and wanted to feel tougher and more in control of things.

We all listened to it a lot when Dad was going through all of his appointments and I would frequently text my parents lines from this song when things were tough and/or we needed to get better answers from the doctors. 

I realized at one point that I was starting to associate this song with my depression, because I would listen to it and feel sad, but listen to the original without Jacoby Shaddix and feel fine, because this is the version that we listened to together the most.

Then when Dad died, I stopped listening to it as much for a while because for a while I was like “hey, the worst possible thing just happened, what’s there left to be depressed about?!” 

Famous last words. 

The Universe just chuckled and showed me more things that I could be worrying about.

The reason that I started writing this post is because this week in particular has been really challenging. It really has not been a good week for my mental health. 

Between work stress and COVID/Thanksgiving stress, I am really struggling with the feeling of not having control over many aspects of my life. I’m back to feeling really depressed.

And no amount of “it’s just Thanksgiving, as long as we have Christmas that will be OK” will make me feel better.

Because I politely but strongly disagree. 

For me, I need Thanksgiving more than I need Christmas. 

There are a lot of reasons, but I’ll only share a couple of them. 

The first reason is that at least during Thanksgiving, I am supposed to reflect on what I am grateful for. Which is having 27 great years with my Dad. Having a wonderful relationship with my Mom. Having support from friends and family. The list is endless.

The second and possibly more important reason is that Thanksgiving 2019 was the last normal holiday that I had. I didn’t have a regular Christmas like everyone else might have had. My life changed significantly way before we knew COVID-19 was a thing.

At Christmas 2019, Dad had just been diagnosed with cirrhosis and everything was weird. I changed courses from buying him a salt block cookbook to buying a low sodium cookbook within an hour of going to the bookstore because that’s when the doctors announced his new diet.

We celebrated Christmas around an air mattress that he was sleeping on at the time because the fluid buildup in his stomach made it uncomfortable for him to sleep in bed. He couldn’t eat any of the shrimp cocktail dip that’s been a family favorite for years.

And after Christmas, everything just got worse. His condition quickly worsened.

And like everyone else, once COVID-19 hit, we missed every other holiday/celebration until Father’s Day. 

So for us, there isn’t “just next year.”

My Dad will never hide another Easter basket. 

We will not make up for his 50th birthday being spent in the hospital alone. 

He won’t be there to celebrate my birthday in person or via Skype while playing Yahtzee. 

He won’t be there to celebrate Rex’s birthday, because this year it was the day before he died. 

He wasn’t there for Mom’s birthday this year and won’t be there next year.

There will never be a “normal” Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas.

I can’t buy him presents. He won’t be there to hide things in the tree.

So please let me have Thanksgiving. I need this as much as I needed fall in August.

I understand people wanting to give up this year for next year. But please don’t judge me if I can’t do that.

I’m not going far – just to my hometown. I’ve been TERRIFIED of getting COVID-19 and being asymptomatic this whole year. I picked up some serious OCD about washing/sanitizing my hands. I wear my mask way more often than I probably need to. I don’t go around large groups of people.

I’m not sure who I’m saying this to.

Maybe I’m saying it in hopes to manifest that my county won’t turn into a red zone. 

Maybe I’m just saying it so people won’t judge me for being selfish if I leave my county for Thanksgiving. 

Maybe I’m just saying it just so I won’t cry about all of this it later. 

John Mulaney voice: “Who’s to say?”

But anyway, that’s my take on Thanksgiving.

So instead of writing things off for Thanksgiving, let’s all make a conscious effort to celebrate it safely. Because if you don’t do it safely, not only could you mess it up for people like me, but you could also mess it up for yourself. It could be you missing someone completely at the next holiday.

So please, join me in wearing your mask, washing your hands, using extreme caution, and trying to save Thanksgiving and everything else for all of us.

Published by allisonljensen

Marketing professional + event planner, grief and self-care blogger.

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