Kristina Furey

What my worst Thanksgiving taught me

I was 12 years old.  It was Thanksgiving. My parents had left me in the care of my 16 year old and my 14 year old brothers or maybe they were in my care but definitely we were left to create our own Thanksgiving meal.  My grandmother had “sneaked over at some point to help my oldest brother with the turkey. I say, “sneaked” because my father was punishing her by going with my Mom and another couple to the Virgin Islands over Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving was the holiday we always spent with her, my grandfather and my dad's side of the family. As part of that punishment we kids were to have our own Thanksgiving. He did not want her to have the satisfaction of even having us there.  I don't remember too much more than that and I didn't even know the story behind this strangeness until my mother and I discussed it, years later. There was so much people didn't discuss and I spent a lot of my youth puzzling over these things, with hurt feelings, confusion and shame. (I believed everything revolved around me, so when things went wrong it was my fault.  If I couldn't fix it, my failure. When they went well, I proudly congratulated myself for a job well done. I was clueless but thought I had it figured out and that I was in control, except when I wasn't and should have been. <--just a little FYI. Thank you Hall Linden for all that FYI, and while I'm being thankful (This is my Thanksgiving blog after all) let me also say thank you Phil Donahue, Oprah Winfrey and Richard Sher.  You were the parents I looked for, skipped school to spend time with and the ones I stretched out my arms and reached for so that my mind could be stretched enough that I might figure out what seemed so unfigureable.) Okay, so where was I? Well, I was in my bedroom, in my bed. It was probably around midnight when I realized it was really scary with no parents and equally so with me being the only one upstairs. Every little creak from the floor radiator caused me to convulse in fear, jolting me out of the beginning of sleep. It occurred to me, while It was really sad and empty with one parent, when my mom left us, it was a whole new experience to have fear on top of that, when there was no parent to be relied upon. My mind slipped into thoughts like, my parents may never come home or the plane might crash and… I had a very creative mind that did not always work in my favor, so this went on basically most or all of the night.  I can't remember how many days they were gone but I think it was a week. I definitely skipped some school during their away time.

 

I think I failed to mention why my father was punishing his mother.  She said she did “not want that woman in her house”. That woman was my mom and in her house was in regards to Thanksgiving day.  She and my dad were trying to work things out. They wanted/"needed for their relationship" to spend Thanksgiving together, away from stress and any of those that didn't want to see them back together.  It was important to their relationship! Their relationship was important for mine and my brother's well being. I learned through my experience in this, that so much can be nurtured in a child when parents are together, on the same page and showing their children that all things can be worked through, when each is committed to the work and each other.

 

They did make it home safely, after I spent many nights, alone on the top floor of my home, in my bedroom, trying to sleep with the radio on, in hopes I might feel okay enough to drift off to sleep.  “I'd tune it to some friendly voices. Talking bout stupid things. I can't be left to my imagination. Let me be weak. Let me sleep and dream of sheep”--Kate Bush

 

So why blog about this now?  It has stood the test of time as the worst Thanksgiving I ever had and I wouldn't want anyone else to have to experience that.  My family was on faulty grounds because they chose to punish each other, when they couldn't control things to be the way they wanted them.  They were not united and did not think about the effect, their actions were having on the family as a whole. That was so hurtful to the child I was and it has had lingering consequences.  Maybe that's why I'm haunted by the idea that my beloved country of UNITED States, would separate children from their families and take such a hostile position with each other. I believe we live in a fractal universe where all things small and large build out in such a way to resemble each other. I believe the smallest things lend to the building of the largest things and the larger things begin to effect the build and shape of even the tiniest of things. I think our chances of survival increase when we evolve together. How do we encourage evolution? I'm guessing we start with ourselves and giving each of our bodies cells what they need to function at their best, much like a community, state or country would do for their residents, if it was promoting life and well being. It's like how when that oxygen mask drops, we put it on ourselves, to secure our abilities to be of the most help to others. I realize, that is what my parents were trying to accomplish when they left us kids that Thanksgiving. They were an inspiration to me, as they showed me you can always fix what is broken, when the parties involved are committed to doing so. Their marriage was stronger than ever for the efforts they put into understanding each other's needs and honestly working toward supporting each other. I am thankful for the many lessons I learned from watching them work things out.

 

Here is a link to an article I read a few weeks ago and I promised myself I would find a way to share it. I hope you will take a little time to read it and consider what a wonderful world this would be if we all would look for solutions instead of problems: https://www-nytimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/opinion/caravan-migrants-asylum-trump.amp.html?amp_js_v=0.1#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2018%2F10%2F26%2Fopinion%2Fcaravan-migrants-asylum-trump.html

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Take it easy out there and make sure you get to your loved ones and home again safely, while doing your best to aid others in doing the same. Here it is my favorite song to post at Thanksgiving: Geggy Tah's "Whoever You Are (All I Want To Do Is To Thank You")

 

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