Pilgrim, As You Journey

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

This is the week of the mass American pilgrimage. Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, is the day we Americans travel home. It is the one holiday we all share, no matter what our religion. The day when we gather as families.

Some of us will have genuinely happy reunions. The stuff of Norman Rockwell.

image from Office of War Information 1942, wikimedia commons

Most of us will have mixed days. Something we have to hassle with a bit. Perhaps a family fuss getting out the door, and then putting up with Uncle Freddie’s bad jokes and Aunt Marge complaining that the dressing is dry. But once everyone settles in for the football, it’s all good.

For some, though, Thanksgiving can be a gut-wrenching ordeal. The hassles are extreme, and the holiday becomes an endurance test of dysfunctional abuse that demoralizes us and convinces us that we deserve nothing from life or ourselves but the crumbs of inadequacy, malcontent, and failed expectations.

Most people who persist in that brutal existence do so from habit and from the fear of change. But a brave few walk away into the unknown with the conviction that whatever lies ahead, it cannot be worse than the hell they left behind. They quit showing up for the beatings.

image by Christina Matheson, wikimedia commons

If you are having joyful reunions this week, we celebrate with you. Such family experiences are the source of strength that sustains us through life’s turmoil.

If you are biting your tongue in between hugs and laughter, we admire you for your tolerance and commitment. Such commitment is the foundation of civilization.

If you are suffering, our hearts and prayers go out to you in the hopes that one day, you will get out.

And if you are one of the ones who walked away, we salute you. You will be alone this week, or with close friends, or with people you barely know who have unfamiliar traditions. If you have persevered down your lonely path, you may even be with a new family by now, making Norman Rockwell jealous.

We know what it took for you to walk away, and we count you as our family. Your “not being there” didn’t come for free, and we honor the price you pay each day. It never gets easy, but it does get better. This song says it all.

Wherever you are in Life’s pilgrimage this Thanksgiving, Holmes and I wish you peace. We will see you back here on Monday, November 26.

Happy Thanksgiving!

29 comments on “Pilgrim, As You Journey

  1. Thank you for the warm thoughts. We wish you peace and good times as well, Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Thanks Piper. For this. Everyone will be at my house this year, so there will be lots of tongue-biting. I’m glad I’m in the kitchen; it’s actually a great place to hide. And yet I’m so grateful for my nieces and nephews. And I’ll look forward to Friday’s Thanksgiving with friends.

    Sometimes I wish I drank more than ginger ale.

    • J Holmes says:

      Hi Renee. “Sometimes I wish I drank more than ginger ale.” Well that’s one possibility. Another solution would be modifying the “offenders” drink.

      May you and your loved ones have a great holiday season.

  3. Ah Piper, you made me tear up. I’m one of the lucky ones whose life is filled with blessings and a lovely family; but I’ve known those who need to walk away, and those who have done so, and my heart aches for them. Sending you and Holmes Thanksgiving love and hugs!

  4. Laird Sapir says:

    What a wonderful Thanksgiving post, you two. And I hope you both have very happy Thanksgivings…wherever you might be celebrating!

  5. J Holmes says:

    Hello Laird. May you and your loved ones have a great Thanksgiving. Come to think of it, be daring. Be happy all year.

  6. Happy Thanksgiving to you Piper! And big thank you for acknowledging those of us who have “walked away”.

  7. tomwisk says:

    I miss all the relatives I used to see at Thanksgiving. They’ve all passed and the remainder has moved on to seperate celebrations. For fifteen years I worked on Thanksgiving. I miss that too.

  8. New Witch says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. May we all find the courage to be happy.

  9. Take care, travel safe, find peace, and smile. Happy turkey daze to all

  10. J Holmes says:

    Thank you Philosopher. You as well.

  11. You covered everyone in this post in such a thoughtful way. Life isn’t always easy and as much as many of us celebrate this holiday in a happy, positive environment, the reality is that many don’t. You’ve managed to send a warm hopeful message to all. Celebrate well!

  12. Texanne says:

    And don’t forget the real empty chairs–those spots around the table that belong to a loved one who is deployed. And you know, right now I also feel for the families who are separated by incarceration. No idea why that came to me, but it did. Many thanks. 🙂

  13. Vila says:

    Thank you Piper, for such a thoughtful blessing. I and my son will be both be working on Thanksgiving, and have to be away from my grand daughter and the rest of my family. Kind of depressing for me, but I still have much to be thankful for.

  14. […] Pilgrim, As You Journey (piperbayard.wordpress.com) […]

  15. To both of you, Piper and Holmes, a big thank you from one who indeed had to walk away. But I’ve found what was missing in my beloved in-laws, the best thing my dh left to me. May you both have the kind of Thanksgiving two people who were able to write such a post deserve.

    • J Holmes says:

      Hi Justine. Thank you for your kind words. To be fair. Piper Did all the work on this post. She is in her “writer monk” mode now so I am trying to keep communication going with our kind readers.

      May you have a great Thanksgiving.

  16. lynettemburrows says:

    Lovely post. I’m one that walked away and forged new traditions and new bonds. The trials and tribulations of life, the folks who can’t go home, are things to remember today. Bless the folks who have no homes due to the storms, God be with our military folk who are separated from families and home, and with all the people (shelter workers, nurses, doctors, police, firemen, etc.) who work on this day caring for others. Warmest wishes to everyone!

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