By: Rebecca Ramdeholl, Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant
Here in Canada, we just had our Thanksgiving. October has been my favorite month for as long as I could remember. Thanksgiving and Hallowe'en, along with the darkening days, the brightening leaves, the trees starting to look bare and sinister, the cold rain, these just made up the best month for me. I got married in October! Those beautiful Thanksgiving dinners I had growing up with my brother and sisters, my parents, my uncle and my dog, was everything I ever needed to feel loved and safe.
Then Life happened. Just like most families, new people joined our clan as we grew older. Boyfriends, girlfriends, then wives, husbands, children. Thanksgiving grew bigger, and louder. In my case, I always had two Thanksgivings to share with my side of the family as well as my husband's side of the family. The intimate dinners were no longer intimate. The quiet lull of the afternoons enjoying a glass of wine after a walk in the woods, chatting, patting a cuddly pet, and hearing the cooking in the kitchen was replaced by noise, noise and more noise. The food became over-abundant. For me, some of the foods no longer had their significant meaning. It was all about feeding the masses, instead of appreciating and understanding why we were eating a particular dish, and absorbing the care put into it. Anxiety and depression grew every year, and the dread of what was to come made me lose joy in the moments prior.
Then disaster happened.
Losing the family patriarch meant trying to navigate a holiday in a new way. My father was dying during our Thanksgiving, so it was potent with emotions and high-strung anxiety. He finally died shortly after Thanksgiving, on the morning of my wedding anniversary with my husband. October was no longer sweet for me. Like many families who go through a death, the holidays were complete crap. Grief overwhelmed me. I tried to say to myself, "it wasn't a tragedy," "he lived a good life", "he would've wanted us to be happy." But those things didn't comfort me.
And so as more holidays came, my already weakening grasp on the meaning of holidays was losing grip of whatever I was holding on to. Always on the edge, I gritted my teeth through the family holidays, not wanting to hear the noise, joyful as it was. I didn't want to eat any of the food that was just too much. In every instance, I wanted quiet to just grieve and remember, and wonder how people can be so happy and eat, when someone I loved and missed couldn't do it anymore. I felt like my processing just didn't happen and it would never happen because I felt like I couldn't find that break I needed to just feel, for as long as I needed to feel it.
Another Thanksgiving this year, and I was clinging to my facade. I was distracting myself by constantly starting up conversations with family members, getting them to talk and talk, so that I didn't have to feel my depression, my grief, my anger, my anxiety.
Then this happened......
During the chaos, I happen to glance at a window and saw that it was pink. I went outside, and stood under all of these colors in the sky. A gasp escaped my lips, and I grabbed my camera and took shots. I only took a few, because I didn't want to waste my time looking at my phone, and so I just stood there and watched the sky. My breathing slowed, while my heart raced at the beauty. My mind mellowed, and I just started to smile and giggle like I was a 6-year-old again. My father popped into my head. I started remembering things from my past holidays with him. Then a love and contentment and gratitude bloomed for all that I had now. He was not here, but I was still happily married to my husband who my father absolutely ADORED, and I know he died feeling blessed. My kids were so happy and thriving with our move. Our large family was re-uniting and growing on both sides, and had minimal drama and lots of affection.
And with that....my Mind, my Anxiety, my clenched jaws eased. My joints were fluid, my eyes shone brighter, and I just loved.
Thank you, Thanksgiving.
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