There’s a good reason that depression skyrockets around the holiday, and I have to surmise that for a large number of people it’s because of difficult family relationships and dynamics.
I would say our family dynamic is more… unconventional. Thanksgiving this year will mean a potluck dinner at my house with my kids, my sweetheart Chris, his daughter and her boyfriend, my ex-husband Dave and his parents and sweetheart.
If we can only add in the parents of our sweethearts, this blended family stew (powderkeg?) would be like some sadistic Brady family gathering.
The family reunion has been happening for special events and holidays for over two years, since Dave and my separation. This arrangement was suggested by our co-parenting mediator, that we do the holidays as a family, for at least a year. Dave and I happily did so, because we were acting on the belief that the kids’ needs came first in the divorce. After the year ended, it seemed to make sense to keep up the tradition. After all, it was nice to get together; Dave and I have very little animosity towards each other, and much good will after our 20 year marriage. I think it’s safe to say we both still enjoy each other’s company, at least the majority of the time, and that there is still much mutual respect and admiration, especially as to how it relates to each others’ role as parents.
Last year it was a little different. Dave and I had both been in long-term relationships, and it felt wrong to exclude our new significant others from the table. How can we be properly thankful when we are leaving some of our dearest behind, like some kind of dirty secret? I can’t say it was the most relaxing, laid-back holiday we’ve ever head. I can’t say either that both Dave and I were on our best behavior the entire meal. My Chinese horoscope is the dragon, after all. But at least we broke the traditional social expectations of going to our separate corners/tables and tried, for the most part successfully, to keep our divided family united.
Therefore, this Thanksgiving, I am extraordinarily grateful to those that love us enough to share in our crazy effort to stay together. I’m not sure if it’s hardest for our sweethearts or the in-laws, but it’s obvious they love us enough to support our efforts and idealism. Most of all, I’m enormously thankful for my family who is demonstrating with their actions that love is unconditional and a divorce decree does not mean you have to break your vows of loving someone forever.