I don’t have my children for Thanksgiving this year.
The good news is that this means I get the kids for Christmas.
But on Thanksgiving, the kiddos will be eating turkey and stuffing with their father.
I’ve been co-parenting for nearly five years now. For five years, the parent who gets Thanksgiving, doesn’t get Christmas, and the parent who doesn’t get Thanksgiving gets Christmas.
I’d like to say that five years of missing every other Thanksgiving and every other Christmas with my children has eased the emptiness I feel on my childless holidays.
But I can’t.
It doesn’t get easier, but I guess I’ve learned to cope with their blatant absence better.
As a former military spouse who had to figure out how to celebrate all the holidays and special occasions that were either postponed or outright ignored because of deployments, I learned to get creative. And flexible with dates on the calendar.
That means that this year, Thanksgiving has already come and gone for me.
Well, to be more accurate, “Fakesgiving” has come and gone.
Just as I’ve made up a new last name to call our household that combines mine, my kids’ and my boyfriend’s, I’ve made up new names for the holidays we celebrate early.
Because I refuse to ignore holidays.
And who cares when you celebrate together as long as you celebrate, right?
So this year, when my parents came to visit the first weekend in November, my family with the three last names smushed into one sat down for our Fakesgiving spread on the most random of days and shared what we were thankful for.
It didn’t matter that the calendar didn’t say Thanksgiving.
While I’m thankful to be able to share Fakesgiving with my kids, and I’m thankful I don’t have to plan an early “Fakesmas” until next December because this year I get to share the real Christmas with them, I can’t help but feel a bit deflated this week.
Everyone around me is planning for Thanksgiving, buying their turkeys and planning their menus.
Yesterday, as my boyfriend and I braved Trader’s Joe’s on the Sunday before turkey day, the busy yet cheerful cashier asked if we were excited for Thanksgiving.
“Well, we’ve already done our Thanksgiving,” I blurted out.
(I really need to stop saying that. People don’t know how to react. I need to just say yes and move on with my day.)
I try not to complain. After all, my kids are thrilled they get two of every holiday each year.
My divorce hasn’t totally scarred them for life.
They’re growing up learning that life is filled with the need for adjustments and it’s important to make the best of odd circumstances.
But I already know on Thanksgiving day, even though my boyfriend and I will enjoy our day hiking at our local state park like we usually do when the kids aren’t around for holidays, my heart will still hurt a little.
After five years, handing my babies over to spend a holiday with someone else still hurts a little.
And I think that’s ok to admit so I can acknowledge that hurt, say hello like it’s a familiar acquaintance, and then move on.
To planning Christmas with my kids!