Thanksgiving: Filling not Stuffing
When my children were little, they hovered around the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, eager to get started with stuffing the turkey. We tied on aprons, pushed step stools to the kitchen counter, and discussed who, exactly, would touch the pale and pimply flesh, before popping the bird into the oven. Our home was full of pleasant aromas and things to be thankful for.
Everything changed once my son became an addict. Thanksgiving became a day stuffed with unspoken disappointment, anger, and fear as I waited for my son to show up—and as I sat down to a table across from his very empty place.
Thankful I was not.
I’ve had time to adjust to Thanksgiving the way it is. To stop wishing for the way it should be. But time hasn’t taken away the hurt—or filled the hole in my life where my child should be.
I suspect it never will.
Instead, I’ve grown stronger.
I’m facing the hurt rather than stuffing it away (usually), and filling the hole with things that make the day better, not worse. That means facing reality, not trying to re-create what can’t be re-created, starting new traditions, and spending quality time with some happy old memories, family, and good friends—the things I am thankful for.
“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate.
When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” ~Shauna Niequist
Excerpt from Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children by Sandy Swenson
“We may often feel fragile, but we are strong. And we are many.
We have the power to overpower the destruction that addiction spreads.”
Sandra Swenson is the author of The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction (Central Recovery Press 2014), Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children (Hazelden 2017), the Readings for Moms of Addicts app (Hazelden 2018), Just Dandy: Living with Heartache and Wishes (Halzelden 2020), and her blog.
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