Thanksgiving Blog Part I: Navigating the Emotions of Anticipation

We’ve got a little less than a week till Thanksgiving. Some of us are starting to get stressed or antsy with everything we have to do. We’re also getting anxious about the family we’ll be with or our hearts are heavy about the ones we won’t. It’s important at these times to recognize where we’re at and process our emotions instead of run from them. In fact, the holidays really can be the best time for us to see where we still need healing in our life. They are an opportunity for growth. So I’m going to do two posts for you. 
In this one, I’m going to share some of the things I did just the other day to process some emotions coming up right now. Next week I’ll post how to navigate the emotions in the moment, when you are with your family. Hopefully the things I share today will help you prepare.

***

FYI..I wrote this part at 3:30 am feeding Ellie so hope it makes sense.

My mother in law got here Tuesday. She’s awesome. 85 and still a fireball. So grateful she can be here with us and Ellie.

Wednesday night, I was getting tacos ready for dinner. Mom brain was already on overload with my head in a ton of places – baby, mother-in-law, college kids coming home, Christmas lists, Christmas decor. You know. 
I realized Simba wasn’t in the house. He got out later in the day and it was dark. I started to worry because we heard a pack of coyotes howling two nights before. I kept cooking, anxiety rising realizing, wow, holiday stress is compounded when you have an infant. Thankfully Mike went out into the brush and found him chasing a rabbit. So we eat dinner and after cleanup, I head to the shower. That’s when it happened.

(I’m sharing this so you have an idea how I process emotions.)

It hits me. Not a meltdown, but an “Oh, that’s what I’m struggling with.” I need to be with this right now.

It’s a holiday and I miss my Dad (just like any of you going through a holiday without a parent). It’s Ellie’s first thanksgiving and my mom isn’t here. She wanted to get out again before the holiday but some health issues are keeping her home. I understand but I’m also sad/angry. I didn’t even realize it till I sat with it. We can be at peace and still be sad/angry. It’s a scary emotion but it’s an okay emotion, and it’s one God can handle if we go to Him with it. Mind you, my mom and I are blessed. Our relationship has improved drastically. The fact that she’s in our lives is a miracle. But guess what? I still have these feelings about it.

When you lose a parent and one is still alive you have a hard time understanding why the one who is here wouldn’t just show up for everything, because life is short. Right? But when you can’t control whether that person shows up, you’ve got to let go. You’ve got to let God. You’ve got to be where you’re at. Acceptance.

So let me tell you a few things I did in case you find yourself in a similar position. Some of the things I did, the Lord led me to do before I felt this. Maybe he knew it wasn’t going to be easy so I’d have a bank of hope to rely on. Maybe these things will help you as you prepare for what may be a difficult holiday for you next week.

1. MUSIC. Ronnie Freeman’s, “Orphan,” played in my head from a few days before, with the lyrics, “I’m not an orphan anymore. I’m yours.” Lauren Daigle’s, “Love Like This,” with the lyric “Hallelujah.” There’s something about how she sings it in this song that sticks with me. We all know music helps us through our emotions. Store up your music bank – with uplifting songs like these – so they stick in your head when you get in your head.

2. FRESH AIR & EXERCISE. Move your body. Get outside. We live where it is grey and yesterday I saw a window of sun and took Ellie on a walk. Didn’t know I was gonna need that later.

3. INTENTIONALLY CONNECT TO GOD. GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA. Turn to God and the Word first. Earlier this week I prayed to not go straight to social media in the morning and go to Jesus instead. So for the last few days I have been purposely doing that. Now I know why. Seek me first. I’m the morning when I rise give me Jesus.

4. PROCESS. Write down your emotions. Talk about with the person you trust. Talk about it with your spouse. Just talk about it. Don’t keep it bottled up inside.

5. LOOK FOR THE GOOD. It’s Thanksgiving so the good old gratitude is a perfect thing to reflect on. Maybe someone isn’t here and a situation isn’t how you’d like it, but hey – thank God for the time you did have with the parent you lost. Thank God for the relationship you DO have with the other. Or maybe for you, it’s thank God they aren’t with you.

Just keep doing these things over the next week and through the holidays really when you get triggered. 

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