So often the holidays bring out the most insane stress in all of us. I am not immune from the insanity. Traditionally, I am so wound up, I can’t eat Thanksgiving dinner because I’ve been so stressed trying to get there. This year I was determined to do things different, better, more aligned with what I want the holidays to be like for my son. I happen to think I was successful.
I am very fortunate that my immediate family, and large majority of my extended family all live here in California. Which means holiday travel is far easier, because it usually consists of no more than an hour plane ride. But there is the overwhelming dread that comes with having to navigate any airport during the holiday season. Once you arrive at your destination, there are all those other stresses that come into play when you are getting together with family for the holidays. I’m guessing I don’t need to go into detail, clearly we all suffer from similar stresses otherwise alcohol sales wouldn’t be at an all time high during the holidays.
As I think about the memories I want my son to have surrounding the holidays, I want them to be of joy-filled experiences he shares with people he loves. What I have figured out is, what that looks like isn’t always going to be traditionally what is expected. It doesn’t always have to include the extended family, sometimes it’s okay for it to be just us.
Back in early October I started to think about what our Thanksgiving was going to look like. Unlike most years, I ended up having the entire week off from work, which meant this could actually be a vacation. I started looking for vacation rentals, and quickly realized I wasn’t the only person who had ever thought of going away for Thanksgiving. All the smart people had planned their trips further in advance that a month. Hitting multiple dead ends, I had an epiphany. Costanoa! It is an amazing place. Snuggled up next to the coastal hills, across Highway 1 from the ocean, you can’t beat the location. It offers luxury accommodation, tent cabins and RV/tent camping sites. There is a locally sourced restaurant right there on the premises. It really has a little bit of everything. My son and I stayed at Costanoa a few years back, and had a lovely adventure. And it was the perfect setting for a quick overnight with my boyfriend. It would be perfect for what I had in mind for this particular holiday. So, I sent out the invite to my boyfriend (Great Guy) and his Mom to join us.
Our Holiday started with arriving at the resort to beautiful weather. There had been the threat of rain in the forecast, so seeing the sun was very pleasant. We were able to check in early, and immediately headed to the beach. As the sun started to slowly slide toward the ocean, not only were the few scattered clouds giving way, so was all the baggage that comes with living life. I could feel myself slipping into calm. A place of being in the moment with the people I was with, and being thankful for it. Watching Wyatt play in the waves, squealing in delight warmed my heart. Seeing him smile while running around on the beach, it reminded me of the happy moments I experienced as a child.
We ended the first day making s’mores around a lovely camp fire, talking about the possibilities for the next day.
We all ease slowly out of sleep, it’s amazing how hearing the rhythmic sounds of the ocean can improve your ability to sleep, even when you are sharing a room with two people who snore. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the resort restaurant, and then my son, Great Guy and I embarked on a hike in the hills just behind the resort. It was nice to be on the trail listening to lizards scurrying here and there. We watched the landscaped change as we climbed higher and higher up the into the hills. At one point Wyatt exclaimed “This is the best Thanksgiving!” At which point I realized I was successful in my goal. We were having a great Thanksgiving. It didn’t require all the traditional trappings or conventions, it simply required us being together.
After lunch, we headed to the beach to tide pools, where we were fortunate to find some sea life hiding in the shallow pools in a series of rocks. Warm sun, soothing surf, and being right there in that moment with a small group of people I love. I hadn’t created the perfect moment, but it just happened. The moment just was, and I loved it!
One of the best parts of being at a resort of a holiday…amazing food. The restaurant put on an incredible culinary delight, which left us all too full, but very happy to have shared another great moment together.
We woke up the next day, all of us just so peaceful and calm. I was sad our time away was already coming to an end. I wanted the feeling to last, I wanted the moment to continue. Driving home along the coast, I began to think back over all the holidays I have endured as an adult. And yes I say endured, because after having such a lovely time, I could see those other holidays were more about the getting there, the who’s going to be there, the where’s everyone staying, and who needs what. Those holidays were about the mundane details which don’t need to be stressed over. I want my son to experience holidays that truly encompass the idea of just being together. And more than anything, I want him to be thankful for the opportunity to just be together. It doesn’t have to be a Tony nominated production. It can just be Thanksgiving!
The one thing I hope I have imparted on my son, this holiday, is so many things can become a distraction. So much so, the holiday loses its joy, its warmth, and becomes something to feel stressed about. But by taking a step back, making things very simple, and remembering it truly is about the moment you are sharing with others. I am truly thankful for everyone that I love, family and friends. I’m blessed to have been given the opportunity to have a moment so precious with a small few. But the energy and enlightenment I gained from that experience I will pass on to all those around me. I will try to carry over the feeling of calm tranquility as we quickly move into the Christmas holiday.
I got what I wanted. A holiday without reason to say, “What the pickles.”