The Young Widow - The First Thanksgiving


The easiest thing to do as a widow is give up the holidays. They are difficult and uncomfortable. They bring up emotions, questions, and seem to lose their meaning. I find that being around people has become awkward. I feel so different. I am branded by my pain and everyone can see it. They are affected by it, by me and are at a loss for words. For a private person, this is a trial in and of itself. With less than 3 months experience at this depth of sadness, it seems almost rude to ask someone what they are thankful for. All the attention and the emphasis is still on all the recent experiences that no one in their right mind can ever think of being thankful for. Then there are the family members... We usually celebrated together and neither of them wanted anything to do with the mention of feeling gratitude or anything else other than grief and sorrow. They don't want to be bothered with decorations, meal planning, and hosting. They don't want to sit around a table surrounded by everyone but him. Who can blame them?

This year, I had a choice. The choice was less about whether to have turkey somewhere or not and had everything to do with whether I had gratitude in my heart or not. Every morning I wake up and thank God for another difficult day that I was spared to take care of my little angel. Is it the most correct prayer? No, I am sure that it is not the most heartfelt either, but it is the truth and the only thing I could put together right now. There is gratitude though. I also recognize many other reasons that I have to be grateful for. I could have easily barricaded myself inside my home for the Thanksgiving holiday. I didn't have to show up. The invitation came full of love from a family who has never forgotten me although they could have. This is where my daughter was and they always had a place for me but I never accepted until this year. I have many things to be thankful for. Now, having seen how delicate and unpredictable life and everything in it is, I could not take a chance at not being there for my little angel and giving her the example of having gratitude and making memories despite our current journey.

I am not thankful to be a widow. I am thankful to have met and loved my husband. I would have loved to have had him for so much longer, but in the short period of time that we did he showed my daughter and I more love than most people see in 10 lifetimes. How could I not show my gratitude for that? I am thankful to have the people who refuse to forget me or leave me behind. I am thankful for the faithful friend that has embraced both me and my daughter and has shared new life experiences and memories with us. I am so grateful to have the time I have with my daughter. I thank God for morning coffee with my mom. There are so many people and things that I am grateful for. My hearts biggest loss does not constitute the action of ignoring this holiday. I can definitely be grateful daily in private, but this day is a tradition of open and public expression of gratitude and so as hard as it was, I chose not to let it go by.

Harder still was the decision I made to visit his workplace on this day. It is a step that I have been avoiding for a long time. I am still not sure that I want to be seen, but it was another way to honor my husband and say thank you to those closest to him. It was not planned and not all were there, but I let myself be seen. Those who were worried and had not seen me since the service were calmed. I was able to wish them a happy thanksgiving.

My big thanksgiving day step was made simple by my host. All I had to do was show up and bring pie. I was not a topic of discussion or questions. It was wonderful to muffle my inside thoughts and just be there. I held and fed a happy baby girl which brings joy to the soul. A grandmothers new journey with little fuss pot baby made me laugh, a lot. An expected mother brought more joy to me. My daughter playing with her step sister, cousin, and the young at heart dog gave my eyes new happy memories. It was hard but it was good. It help me move into the next hard decision...Christmas. The tree is up and is making my daughter happy. It is beautiful.

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Comments 21 comments

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

"It was hard and it was good." Your words are so beautiful. I voted this hub up and everything but funny. I am in awe of your strength and your ability to keep moving on. My nephew died in 2009, a few months before Christmas. My brothers and I haven't gone to my mom's house together since 2008, as everything changed after that day. This year, we are planning to get together there again, and I'm praying it goes okay. I guess I'm telling you this to say that I'm impressed with and praying for your decisions and strength. I can't imagine your pain. Useful and well-written article. Your courage could inspire many readers. I wish you the best.

nancynurse profile image

nancynurse 5 years ago from Southeast USA

My sister just went through her first Thanksgiving without her husband so I know a littl about how your feel. I will pray you find peace and love.

justateacher profile image

justateacher 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

Although it is not the same, this holiday is also difficult for since I lost my mother a year and a half ago. Last year I chose to ignore the holiday, but this year we celebrated. It was tough without mom there, she was the one who made Thanksgiving dinner and made it the special day it is supposed to be...

Hoping things get easier with time for you...

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

I am, like everyone else, awed by your strength. I know that you have to keep up the holiday good front for your daughter. The reason does not make it any easier. I am keeping you in my prayers, as usual, and I am hoping for acceptance by your heart. Your mind knows that you have to keep moving on but your heart is still in denial. May God carry you through these tough days.

cgreen7090 profile image

cgreen7090 5 years ago from Tennessee

Ahhh, keep writing, my friend. Keep writing. It's good for the soul. ((Hugs))

purp-drag913 profile image

purp-drag913 5 years ago from West Michigan, USA.

I can't begin to understand your loss at this time of year. My thoughts and prayers go with you. Beautifully written piece.

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 5 years ago from Iowa

I am so sorry for your loss.

Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 5 years ago from Central Florida Author

Hello Victoria,

I don't believe that there is a such thing as moving on for me, but there is a possibility of moving forward. There is a such thing as bringing good out of this sad/bad situation. I am very happy to hear that your family will be reuniting after so many years. Life has changed for us all, that is true, but should something happen to any one of us, these are the happy memories that will carry us thru and so it should not be a sad or scary thing for you. Share love, share memories, share tears, share anything you have to share, just share. It's the only thing that really matters.

Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 5 years ago from Central Florida Author

Nancynurse, I am happy to meet you and I thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my hub. I sincerely wish that your sister and I did not have this first time experience in common. Let her know that there are others like her if she needs us. I am broken but still have ears to hear with and relating to her is something that I can do even if I am emptier than I was.

Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 5 years ago from Central Florida Author

Justateacher, it is very nice to meet you and I appreciate you taking the time to read with me and leave me your words in return. You are right, all losses are different but a lot of the residual feelings and obstacles are so the same. Although the children are supposed to outlive the parents, no one is prepared and there is rarely a correct time to lose any loved one in life. We are just so unprepared and delicate. I am happy that you could put something together this year. I also hope and pray that it starts feeling comfortable and special for you and yours soon.

Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 5 years ago from Central Florida Author

Good morning Becky

The heart is amazing. Especially a hopeful heart. It is like an alternate reality. It finds wholes in the truth and attempts to live in it. I have faith and see so many others have faith in a man who died two thousand years ago and my heart says I won't have to wait so long for my Prince. It seems denial and faith may be too closely related. Thank you for your prayers and your well wishes.

Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

I agree with Victoria, I am in awe of your strength, well done, it's one step at a time and visiting the workplace was a very big step. Keep writing.

My best wishes and hugs to you, MM

Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 5 years ago from Central Florida Author

Cgreen, thanks for the comment. Writing for me is like therapy. it is a way for me to really see what is going on inside of me. When I write, I don't worry about who will read it. It is very freeing. Thanks for the hugs. I send you some as well for your journey.

Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 5 years ago from Central Florida Author

Purp and Deborah,

I appreciate your reading the work and commenting on us for the first time. I welcome you and thank you for all of your well wishes. I hope to see more of you both and to get to know you better. Thank you so much.

Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 5 years ago from Central Florida Author


Always nice to hear from you. Honestly, the work thing was so so hard. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to turn and run. My heart rate went up just driving up to it, but I know he was loved there so I had to barrel thru it. I am told that waiting too long for these things doesn't make it any easier. I am reluctant to call my 'getting it over with now' mentality as strength. I am sure that step cost me because it took me a day or two to be 'ok' again. Backsliding, I have learned is part of this all.

As always thank you for your kind words and wishes.

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Sad Susan 4 years ago from Wisconsin

Dear M-S,

I started reading this hub with some trepidation as Thanksgiving was a day of "firsts" for me... my first holiday without Gary, coupled with the double whammy that it was also my birthday. Ever the optimist, I tried to look at it as knocking down two firsts at once. That worked out for part of the day, part not. I spent it with family at my nephew's house and everyone was so kind. Gary and I had hosted the family Thanksgiving every year for the past ten so that in itself carried its own sense of loss. I brought the candle with his photo on it that we got as part of the memorial service goings-on, and he was the center of the centerpiece. ?

I surprised myself when, at my nephew’s, I offered up our home for the Christmas gathering. (I questioned that decision many times over the following four weeks leading into the day...) My kids were home for Thanksgiving, and they put up a Christmas tree for me that weekend and I was so grateful to them. I was not going to put up a tree as it would be too painful to get the ornaments out, each with special meaning, and touch them. In the end, I was glad that I did this, as it gave me a purpose in the days leading into Christmas – I had much to do and prepare, and it kept me kind of distracted and busy. I was alone Christmas Eve, a night that was always so special to us as a couple and also as a family – I simply could not bear to go to church alone so watched a service on TV and sang and prayed along from the safety of my living room. The day went well, the house was raucous and noisy, with lots of laughter including my own! It felt wonderful to have the house full for a celebration, rather than the last time it was full for the saddest reason in August.

Back to thankfulness…. I too found my soulmate and the love of my life in Gary.

We had such plans for the life we thought would be long… but I would have done nothing different if I had known our time would be cut short. Our love was the most amazing gift – I carry it with me, in me, around me, always, and I am so grateful.

Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Susan, I can completely understand going back and forth about hosting. It is a big job and big is just something that takes a long time to be ready for. I am so happy that it ended up working out. It is amazing how that works sometimes. What we dread often lifts us up more than anything else.

Thank you for your wonderful story and letting me be the one you share it with.

newenglandsun 3 years ago

Hope this thanksgiving is going much better for you.

I actually know people who don't celebrate thanksgiving. One was a student instructor I had from England, of course at least one of my Jewish professors doesn't celebrate it, an Islamic friend of mine doesn't celebrate it either.

My question is this, did they let you breast feed the baby or were you only allowed to bottle-feed it?

Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 3 years ago from Central Florida Author

That Thanksgiving was a good one and they have all been good since as they were before. I think it is less about the actual holiday and more about the fact that I still see so much to be grateful for.

The holiday itself is an American tradition so I am not surprised that your friends do not celebrate it. While the origins come from an American tale, I think a day to focus on gratitude would be great for any and all cultures.

No, silly. You only breast feed your own. You are a guy... I understand.

newenglandsun 3 years ago

Guys bottle-feed.

Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 3 years ago from Central Florida Author

Hahaha... I noticed

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