a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: The Feeling With No Name

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Feeling With No Name

SUMMARY: Grief at the holidays.

You've read or heard about it your whole life--that not everyone is happy during the epic of The Holidays.

Christmas in particular has always been a favorite of mine. And Thanksgiving, getting together with family and consuming mass quantities, so many good times.

Not every year has been equal in joy, of course.

This year, maybe the roughest for me; I can't speak for the rest of my family, but I suspect for them as well. Dad is gone, Mom is gone, cousin Carol Anne is gone, other cousin's spouse left and will no longer be around. When I lost Tika and Boost--when we discovered that Dad had stage 4 cancer--cousin also lost her dog to cancer. And now, the house (parents' last home) where we've had a large and growing celebration every Christmas morning since 1968 is gone. Every item in that house that made it a familiar family Christmas surrounding is gone--some pieces distributed here and there within the family, but... not there. That particular Parental flavor of being Home for Christmas.

So, it's 2017. The family has changed around me. For the first time in all Thanksgivings, I spent a good part of the morning crying for what is gone, even as I did my best to count the very many things that I have that I am thankful for.

I attempted this normal self-care thing Thanksgiving morning: my annual Thanksgiving morning hike with dogs, most years since I've been on my own, and it has been a lovely thing--few people out, so peaceful, such a beautiful time of year.  And this time my dogs got into a fight with each other and I had to enlist a stranger to help me separate them. That was the capper for the day.

I did go to the family gathering although I didn't feel up to it--all sisters and families and our close cousin were there and we were all in the same boat, so I felt that I couldn't not be there, and it was good to see people but I still had to sneak out and go for a short walk on my own.  I ate too much as usual because the food as usual was overabundant and delicious, but maybe that's what helped me get to sleep last night. A hidden blessing after 2 nights of misery.

Wednesday I stared at my boxes and boxes of xmas decor-because I love Christmas and Thanksgiving weekend is usually the beginnings of decorating for the season--I started thinking that the last thing that I want is a huge family xmas like we've had every year of my 61 xmases to date, which I have always enjoyed.  I can't quite grasp it. But what made it even more interesting is that many of my sisters hinted that they feel the same way, so we'll see what happens.

I am grieving, I know. It hurts. My grief is like no one else's, and no one else's is like mine or anyone else's. We can call it grief, but it's as personal as the way you smile, the color of your eyes, the movies you enjoy, the color that's your favorite, all of the million things wrapped together to make you you, or me me.  How can one word cover that?  Can't. I struggle for words to convey my complex roiling mental, emotional, and physical states.  Grieving. Will have to do for now.

One thing that took my mind off it all for a half hour, thereby cheering myself a fraction, on Thanksgiving morning I searched for "turkey" in my photo disk and shared them in this Facebook album with captions for your turkeying pleasure.


  1. I didn't go down to Alabama for Thanksgiving this year. Just too tired. We did go to my Ann Arbor cousin's house for dinner, on the farm where mom grew up. Lots of people there, most I didn't know. We, too, went for a walk after the meal, around the farm where I used to play as a kid. Nice. Nostalgic. Underlying it all was sad. I wish we lived closer, we'd take the dogs for a long walk on Christmas day. This year (like some other years) I'm going up north on my own for that week. I'm lucky I know. But I imagine I'll cry a bit Christmas morning. I tell you all this so maybe in a small way you don't feel alone. And because, as you know, it's OK to grieve, in what ever way works, and in some ways that don't work. And for as long as we need to.