The Post-Thanksgiving Punch

WCCO’s Jordana Green reflects on how to cope when the holidays that aren’t so happy

I was so smug. I should have known better. And I talked about it on the radio! For G-d’s sake, I’m an idiot.

On the air last Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) I shared a story that’s hilarious now, but 5 years ago it was tragic.

Five years ago was my first Thanksgiving since my husband left a few months prior. He got the kids that holiday and I was alone. I had begun dating (for the first time in 18 years) about 5 minutes before Thanksgiving and the new ‘sort-of-boyfriend’ insisted I spend the holiday with his family, whom I had never met. In a moment of lunacy, I agreed. Thanksgiving morning I went to work to fill in on the 9 a.m. show and I was home by 12:30. My house was too quiet. The gravity of my first holiday without my kids or husband was setting in and it was not pretty. I had promised to make a pecan pie for the new boyfriend’s family, so in between crying jags, I set about my baking. I ended up drinking more rum than went into the pie (and there’s a lot in the pie) and I was super loaded. Crying and drunk is how the new boyfriend found me when he came to pick me up. He helped me get dressed and insisted I come (against my better judgment) to meet his family for the meal. It was a disaster.

From the moment I walked into his Aunt’s house, I was in tears. I left the meal and locked myself in the bathroom frantically calling my sister in New York and hysterically crying. I was a mess. New boyfriend’s mother tried to comfort me through the door, but finally after the meal, someone needed to use the bathroom and he came to tell me he’d take me home. I sheepishly offered my apologies and ran as fast as I could from that house. Epic Thanksgiving fail.

As I recounted this story on the air five years later I silently patted myself on the back for how far I’ve come. I ended up marrying said boyfriend and his whole family has since forgiven me. I’ve transitioned myself to being single, then getting remarried, helped my children adjust and thrive to their ‘new normal’ and we’ve all come through pretty well. I was feeling pretty good about how I’ve moved on and gotten over the pain of divorce.

Then Friday morning I got the text. It was from my 10-year-old son. He sent me the toast he had written for his dad’s wedding (that night) and wanted me to read it and make sure it was ok.

It was a beautiful, sweet, kind, loving speech and I was very proud of my son. But something about reading the words he wrote for the new love-of-his-dad’s-life tasted really, really bad. Just when you think you’re ‘past the pain’ or ‘in a good place’ or ‘have moved on,’ you get divorce-sucker-punched and the hurt comes back like a tsunami.

I was right when I told my listeners, the holiday’s get easier, the pain dulls and you do feel better eventually. But it’s also true that the holidays can be brutal. Despite my smugness, and ‘better place in life now’ I was once again reduced to tears this Thanksgiving weekend. But you know what, that’s ok too.  Life can be messy and hard and painful, but in its midst are beautiful speeches written by little boys, families who meet crazy new girlfriends and forgive them for being crazy, and boyfriends who turn into husbands and swear your pecan pie was delicious even if it was soaked in rum.

This week I wish you a holiday season with a little less pain than the last one and someone who loves you even if you ruin the pie.