Just over a year ago, my husband and I decided to separate, but since it was the holidays, we agreed we would wait to tell our kids about this life change. We both felt like we were wearing a mask to get through it all; I felt comfort and despair in continuing with some of our beloved family traditions. I knew it was going to be the last year we shared the same roof and did certain things together.
I became very good at taking the days minute by minute and not looking too far ahead. I dove into some of my favorite recipes like homemade applesauce, fudge pie, and roasted butternut squash soup. The kitchen became my church. I was able to be in the moment and tell myself I could worry about what the holidays would look like after our split, later.
And now it's later.
I've actually been looking forward to this time because spending extra time in the kitchen with my kids and decorating for the holidays has always brought me such comfort and joy. I need that this year more than ever because everything else feels strange and a little lonely right now. So do my kids.
That's why we decided to spend this Thanksgiving together, as a family.
It might sound weird, but I feel good about providing some normalcy for all of us through this difficult situation. Our kids didn't ask for their parents to divorce, and I don't want them to feel like their life is changing anymore than it already has.
My ex and I agreed when we separated we wouldn't make the kids choose who they wanted to spend each holiday with, or make them divide the day between two homes — at least for the first year, anyway. We've worked hard to maintain a healthy relationship for our three children, and we wanted the holidays to be a time where they still feel a strong sense of magic and traditions.
So my ex is coming over and we're having Thanksgiving like we always used to.
We'll go out for breakfast to our favorite bagel place because it's what we've always done. Then, we will come home and start making all the sides: the boxed stuffing my daughter loves, the canned cranberry sauce that my son always asks for, the mashed potatoes only two of us like, and the kale and pomegranate salad I always have to have. My ex will make the turkey — that is his job — and since no Thanksgiving is complete for him without having chocolate cream pie, I will make that, too.
The holidays are a time to come together with family, forget your differences, and realize what is truly important. Whether we are married or not, my ex and I are still part of a family unit, and that will never change. Hanging onto these traditions feels like the right thing to do for now, and I am thankful we can give this gift to our children.