Thanksgiving has always been a stressful day for me. Growing up, holidays always seemed to end badly. I would wake up on Thanksgiving with a sick feeling in my stomach waiting for the usual bomb to drop.
Something bad always happened. My parents fought, my sisters and I fought with each other or with my parents, things were thrown, cuss words were used and someone ended up crying in the bathroom. Those fighting type holidays are ingrained in me and the memories of those times is difficult to forget and too easy to perpetuate.
Until recently, I would try and sabotage my holidays by baiting Adrian to fight with me. My modus operandi was to scream and yell over anything, usually something petty. Adrian, who has taken twenty years of this foolishness, ignores it. If fighting was the soundtrack of my childhood holidays, then the soundtrack of my holidays with Adrian have been more of an instrumental (at least on his part).
My family and I have had mixed results with holidays as adults. Last year, Annie threw my twin sister Jackie and I a birthday party which was almost ruined when Jackie and I fought over what time she would arrive to help set up. Jackie and I screamed at each other as my mom paced and swore to herself in the front yard. Annie was crying and upset. Jackie and I resolved it within an hour, but the fight seemed to cast a shadow over the day that was all too familiar.
Last year, our Christmas Eve celebration seemed different. In a Mantz family first, no one fought, screamed or yelled. It was liberating to start a new holiday tradition of peace and goodwill toward one another.
This Thanksgiving, Adrian and I are taking a break from hosting. I met my sister Jackie for breakfast this morning. Jackie was sad that we are not spending Thanksgiving together this year which she expressed to me. Then she told me in a sweet voice how nice it was to have breakfast together. I stopped myself from saying something sarcastic because I knew she meant it. Sincerely.
And she had that same earnest look in her eyes that she always had when we were little. Looking at her face, I felt a stirring in my chest. It was the same kind of feeling that the Christmas Grinch must have felt when his heart started to melt.
Today I am giving thanks for my family and the goodwill we have tried hard to create with one another. The ice is thawing and I am hopeful for the future. I love you.