Saturday, November 2, 2013

Having a Thriving Thanksgiving!

November is finally here! I have always seen the passing of Halloween as a kick off to the holidays. But the holiday season doesn't always mean great things for Law Enforcement families. Sometimes the holidays bring pain, hardships, and a lot of lonely feelings. Spouses work weird hours, aren't home for the festivities, miss events and parties, and seem to never be there for the kids. Their responsibilities leave the rest of us alone...and that is the last thing you want to experience at the holidays. Are you feeling this way? You are NOT alone!

I am posting about Thanksgiving right of the bat this year because I can't bare to think of someone despairing over their circumstances all month long, only to get a little encouragement the day of and everything turns out fine. You can be excited for a messed up Thanksgiving all month long...I am!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all year! I have wonderful memories of family and feasting, games and relationship. We would usually have a bunch of people over, or travel to my aunt's for a big family shin-dig. There was mounds of delicious food, lots of loud talking and laughter. Always new people to meet and familiar folks to catch up with. As a kid I would run from tray to tray eating all day, jumping in people's laps for hugs and convo, and then take off to play or mingle. Thanksgiving gave me family, love, great food, and a whole lot of security.

This year is different, my husband works on Thanksgiving. 2pm to midnight. Add that we moved from all our family and friends and it looks like I will be spending turkey day with just my one year old. Feeling alone. So much for my favorite holiday. Or at least that was the first thing I felt. And then I thought, that's a crappy way to feel on my FAVORITE holiday of the year. How can I change my circumstance?

As Law Enforcement families we have to adapt. We have to be up for any change and thing that comes our way. If we don't like something, we have to be willing to make the effort to adjust something to make it work better. So we are having Thanksgiving a day early. Who says it HAS to be the same day as everyone else? How about thinking of it as having two days of Thanksgiving?

In order to stay positive I had to change the way I viewed this special day. I had to be willing to adapt. So, for the first time in my life...Thanksgiving will be on Wednesday...and Thursday! And I'm going to try to find as many LE families as I can that need to celebrate on that day too. Because as Law Enforcement we HAVE to support each other. There is a wonderful family here in our small town who's husband just got promoted and will be commuting to a different town an hour away. They may be alone on Thanksgiving. I know I am strong enough to reach out, so I will. We are going to make a new family this year...and grow because of it.  

Here is another point. I have no idea if anyone is going to come to my dinner. It may just be my husband and daughter after all. And I have to see that as equally wonderful as if I had a full house. Because it's family! I can't forget that despite my other family members being hours away, I have a special little threesome right here. I still will have family! Maybe not 20 people like some years, but the three of us are as valuable as a huge group. A little dinner, with a small turkey and a few sides matters just as much, and is just as special as a feast for a crowd. It matters because of the people around me, no matter how many.

So you may be the mom this year who's husband works as well. It may be just you because you don't have kids. You may have no one to come to dinner so it's tempting to just call for pizza. DON'T. Put the effort in for a special Thanksgiving dinner. Even if it's for you and your one year old, like me. Or find another family to crash their party.

You may ask, why bother? Because at the least, YOU are important. Your children are still important. The tradition is still important! If you can't bare to do Turkey Day without your spouse, celebrate it on a different day, like me, and figure out something special to do on the actual Thanksgiving day when your spouse is gone. We as the family of a Law Enforcement Officer have to be strong enough to keep going. To teach our children traditions, value, and family...even if daddy or mommy won't be there this year. We have to be over-comers in order to Thrive. Our attitudes and perspectives HAVE TO BE POSITIVE!

This blog is meant for more than just spouses, so let me say something directed at the parents, siblings, extended family and friends of an LEO. Remember to be adaptable too. To help your son or daughter (or brother/sister) have a holiday this year may mean changing your traditions too. You may have hosted Thanksgiving at your home for the last 25 years. Be awesome enough to change it up this year and host dinner when your LEO and family can come...even if it means the weekend before. It is important to be a family through this stressful life. And sometimes, extended family can be the support to help make that happen.

Let me encourage everyone with this tidbit too...every year is different! You may be hurting because, like me, your family is far away, your spouse is gone and no matter how you work it, this holida
y feels like a dud. Remember! Next year will be different! Find something positive in this year, and look forward to the next. You must lean on one bit of advice...take everything one day at a time. Cherish this year because you have it, no matter how messed up it is. See it with a sense of humor. 

So this is how we have adapted our holiday this year...Turkey dinner with my husband on his day off (Wed) and then on Thanksgiving I will make a wonderful breakfast for the family while my husband is still home, watch the parade with my daughter, snuggle with a Christmas movie or two, and enjoy lots and lots of leftovers. I'm still going to decorate even though no one may see it. We still will be excited even though our party is small. And I still will be thankful because I have my daughter and husband. That still sounds like a pretty awesome holiday.

I hope you are able to celebrate this holiday with friends and family. I hope you can extend support to someone else because you know how it feels to be alone. And I REALLY hope, you overcome the burden and stress that having a LE life can bring. This is our crazy life...we will live, love and thrive this Thanksgiving!

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