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holiday.. advice? Journal 11/28/21

Do you know what I’d do for another Cracker Barrel Campbell Family holiday?

As I sit in my parents’ living room, watching a lifetime-style Netflix original Christmas movie about a woman falling in love with a Scottish Duke- I am just stewing on how different every single holiday will be from now, for the rest of my life.

Those traditions that I relied so heavily on, that I loved more than anything, that I could plan my year around………. They’re all gone. And had it not been covid, it still would've been death.

Early January 2020, I’ve told you all so many times… but my grandfather died. And then Covid hit right after, and if that didn’t make it all worse. The grieving and the isolation and all of the above.

This week, I got to my parents on Wednesday afternoon. And I’ve gotten to spend every afternoon with my eldest grandmother, my momma’s mother. It’s been wonderful, but also the most difficult thing I’ve done in a while.

She’s 88? I think. And she’s had such a good, loved and loving life. But I don’t expect to have ten more years with her, and that’s fucking hard to come to terms with. This woman who helped raise me is now using a walker? What???

Thursday my parents hosted Thanksgiving- and it was an hour and half of family and eating, and then it was over and they left. And that was it. My whole entire life, it’s been wednesday at Cracker Barrel for the Campbells, with my dad, my papaw and I getting various versions of catfish and fried apples. Thursday we show up at my mamaw’s around 12 and stay until 6 in the evening with up to 40 family members. There’s drama, there’s turkey, there’s tears and there’s laughter, and there is a LOT of making fun of my mom.

And this year…. It was an hour and a half.

And as we say playing cards with my 88 year old grandmother on Thanksgiving evening, I looked at her with the most melancholy feeling. I worried every single year, would this be the last one ever? And to realize very suddenly that it had been the last one ever, and I hadn’t ever even realized it, I had let it go by and not even savor it for every single moment in spite of my distaste for half of my family. Yes, Karen, I had to throw that in. Can’t let them forget.

I told you in the last podcast episode, about how I wanted to bring some new traditions into my own. How I wanted to start observing a day of mourning in honor of those whose lives were lost and irreparably changed thanks to the Puritans stealing Native land, etc, etc. But I think it’s also important, as we remember those and as we give thanks for what we do have, to reflect on those who have made our lives such as they are, and who have gone before. It seems only right, truly, to reflect and give thanks for their impact. And, further more, it brings us into a really interesting state of the present, remembering and thanking those before in such a way that we are even more explicitly aware of our standing in the universe and how fragile our existence is. How unique, how much of a fluke. How much we are the product of millions and millions of happenstances, and how we never truly know when something is the last, or when something is just another of many.

So my advice this holiday season: be aware that any party could be the fucking last one you go to, and live in it so fully that it hurts. Be so fully there, so fully in love, so fully yourself, so focused on your memories and those traditions and your love for the moment. All of it. Love it all so intensely and so deeply and so fully. I can’t put it any better than that.

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