This Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for the great memories I have of my family and the traditions we had as kids. However, as hard as I try to smile, this is the time of the year that I can’t wait to get through.

Moden Thanksgiving Circa 1983

This is the time of the year when most families gather together and celebrate and share memories and happy times. However, for some of us, this time of the year can be a little tough to handle. I realize that for some of you it may be hard to understand. We all experience things differently and handle them differently. For years I have dealt with a great deal of depression after the loss of my mother. She passed away in 1996 and quite honestly I never “got over it.”  I’ll be the first to admit that I was and still am a momma’s boy. For years, I tried to figure out why I would get down during the Holidays and after my father passed away 2 years ago, things all became clear and a little more sad to me.

For me, the holidays were all about my family. I have memories of Thanksgiving Eve watching my mother bake pies and prepare for the next day’s meals. Thanksgiving was all about a full day of just being with my entire family. If the weather was warm we would play basketball out back. If it was cold, we would watch my dad smoke the house out in an effort to light a fire in the fireplace. Then of course a great dinner and dessert and family TV time after. Thanksgiving was so special for me and my family. My brothers and sisters have all started their own families and I couldn’t be more proud of them.  If I am being completely honest, when the invite comes from them, I don’t feel like pretending it is as good as it used to be.

Thanksgiving for me now means hunting in the morning, then stopping by to visit some friends and having a couple drinks to celebrate my parent’s memory. I like it as quiet and low key as possible. Yes I love to eat but getting caught up in family style conversation is something I dread these days.

As far as Christmas goes, that was probably the most special holiday for me and my family. I would say that other than our summer road trips to the visit grandma in the Adirondacks, my most fond memories about my mom and dad are from our Christmas’ together. I could go on and on about how great that time of the year was at our house. Was it at times stressful? Yea, most likely for my mom and dad it was very stressing. My father was the sole bread winner and making a Christmas for all of us kids had to be tough. But they did it. The most special of all was Christmas Eve when my brother came home from the Marine Corp.  After that day, years ago, there was always something magic about Christmas Eve with my family. It was the one day all year I couldn’t wait to get to.

Christmas morning was the “icing on the cake” for the Holidays in the Moden House. Looking back, I can’t really remember what my favorite gift was and honestly, it didn’t’ matter. I wanted to just get to that time when we all sat in the same room and shared so many laughs and individually watched each person open their gifts from Santa and mom and dad. It seemed like we had a lot of gifts at the time. These days, people open gifts for hours or just tear right in without anybody seeing “whatcha got.” I’m not trying to put down anyone else’s traditions.  Each family has their own thing and that’s cool. But getting back to my point from above, I am not comfortable at all trying to make it seem like I am happy to be around people on that morning. I would rather sleep in, go running or visit the cemetery and then later swing by friends and family for drinks.

If you have never lost someone very close to you, this may be hard to understand. There is a reason why you often hear people say “the Holidays are the hardest part.” Plain and simple, this time of the year really can be emotionally draining. I’m sure someday I’ll have my own little family and we will make some great memories based on my experiences as a kid.

I am so grateful and thankful this year that I was raised by two of the best people you could ever meet. Yes, I am thankful for my job, my house and everything that I have earned through hard work. But, all of that could be gone in no time at all. It’s the memories that you create with your family that will last for eternity.