Thanksgrieving is Real

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Or does it feel like more Thanksgrieving to you? If so, I’m thinking about you.
I read through a lot of blog posts this morning and most were filled with happy thoughts and pictures about how wonderful today will be. It seemed like there was a lot of slaving in the kitchen going on and a lot of happy memories being made. I didn’t see any blog posts about crying into your microwaved mashed potatoes but maybe I didn’t look hard enough. If you’re crying into your microwaved mashed potatoes, keep reading.
I can’t say I’ve ever been a huge fan of Thanksgiving. I’m not into most of the traditional food. I’m usually happy with a plate of turkey and stuffing. No potatoes, or gravy, or cranberry sauce, or pumpkin anything for me please. As a kid I enjoyed seeing family on Thanksgiving. One year our parents surprised us with a trip to visit our Grandparents in Myrtle Beach. That was fun. My memories from older years are usually being stressed out because my parents made my brother and me clean the house before company came over and it never seemed to be clean enough. That was unfortunate because then I started associating family coming over for Thanksgiving with being stressed out.
When I was in my 20s I spent most of my Thanksgivings either with friends or alone because I lived across the country from my family. One year I went to three different dinners. Another year my friends and I had what we called an, “Orphan Thanksgiving.” Everyone who wasn’t traveling or with family made a dish and we ate dinner together. It was nice. I learned over time that I would rather spend Thanksgiving alone than with someone else’s family. When I did join a friend’s family for dinner I always felt out of place and like I was crashing their intimate family time. Most years a chicken breast and some Stove Top stuffing suited me just fine.
This year my Aunt invited me and my husband over for dinner. She is cooking and told us to “just bring ourselves.” Cool. I’m not the greatest cook and she really has this meal down to a science. Plus, she has 4 kids so what’s a few more right?
You might be alone today. You might be grieving the loss of a loved one whose favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. Maybe you just went through a break-up and you’re really feeling it today. Maybe you’re hurting because sometimes life just hurts. Thanksgrieving is real.
You might be with family today. I hope it’s wonderful. It might be. Or your parents might be hounding you about giving them grandchildren. Or maybe the joke about having a “drunk uncle” isn’t a joke in your family. Or maybe you’re the drunk uncle and you’re not sure how that happened or what to do about it.
The holidays are never perfect. Thanksgiving will never be perfect. Families are far from perfect. We know this. Life is hard and the holidays are part of life. If you’re alone today, I’m thinking about you. I’ve been there. If you’re stressed out today, well, this too shall pass. If you dropped the turkey down the stairs on your way to the table, I hope you can laugh about it someday.
Happy Thanksgiving! Or Thanksgrieving! Or Thursday! Whatever holiday it is you’re celebrating may it be full of memories, most of them happy and good.



  1. Jessica Bradshaw on November 24, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    This is beautiful. Hugs. I know that holidays aren’t for everyone and not everyone has family that gets together. This is a great reminder of that. This was my first Thanksgiving without my PawPaw, so it was definitely a little weird for me.

    • Courtney A. Casto on November 24, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      Thanks Jessica! I think the hole in our hearts for our departed loved ones swells a little more around the holidays. There is an emptiness that is felt profoundly even when otherwise surrounded by joy. Love to you and your family this holiday season!

  2. Erinn on November 24, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    What a beautifully written post! You seriously have a gift.
    All families are far from perfect and every one has they’re own problems (despite what they want you to believe, especially on social media), trust me! Mine included :/
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

    • Courtney A. Casto on November 24, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      Thanks Erinn! You’re so right about social media. It is a great way to make things look perfect, especially families. This year I was surrounded by my aunt and uncle and cousins (and their babies!) Thanks for reading as always!!

  3. ShootingStarsMag on November 24, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I love this. I didn’t really do much for Thanksgiving – I don’t like the food and I often get depressed around holidays. This year was pretty good, but I’ll be happy to see it go!


    • Courtney A. Casto on November 24, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      Oh Lauren, I know how you feel. Some years I can’t wait for the holidays to get here and as soon as they arrive I can’t wait to see them go. No matter how full our lives or families are sometimes we can’t help but feel alone.

  4. Susie @ Mile High Dreamers on November 25, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    This is such a real post. While I’m endlessly thankful for my blessings, it’s also important to remember how HARD the holidays are for many of the people we love the most. Especially those who have lost loved ones. Thank you for being real and reminding us not to forget that someone we love might need a little extra support this time of year.

    Susie |

    • Courtney A. Casto on November 26, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Thanks Susie. Some years are better than others but I’ve had some hard holidays. I try to remember that even though I’m in a good time, others are still in a bad time and they need love!

  5. Amy on November 25, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    Yes to all of this. Holidays are complicated and bittersweet and I’m so thankful when we can openly acknowledge that truth. Thanks for being real dude. ❤️

  6. Latonya on November 26, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Thank you for this. I struggle with the expectations that come with this time of year. You are expected to get together with family even if you haven’t seen them since last holiday season or longer. There’s an expectation that you cook a huge meal. People at work ask the traditional small talk questions, “What are YOU going to cook?”, “Where are you going?” I’m not sure they really care. I also don’t like the traditional food. I would rather spend time with certain family members I want to see all year instead of focusing on this time of year. Christmas has become so commercialized that I struggle to get into the spirit, because what does the Christmas Spirit really mean? My $.10. ?

    • Courtney A. Casto on November 26, 2017 at 10:11 pm

      Oh LaTonya, I know exactly what you mean. I don’t know if my family will be together this Christmas and I had the thought, “If we don’t even get together at Christmas, then what are we doing?” Then I realized, if we don’t want to spend time together we don’t have to. And the expectations for visiting around the holidays feel antiquated now. Part of me is sad and part of me accepts it.

      I always used to struggle when people would make small talk by asking me what I’m doing for the holiday. When I said nothing or that I would be alone it was always uncomfortable.

  7. Charlotte on November 26, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Love love love this so much, Courtney. You’re so very right… for many, this is a time of heightened emotions, both good and sad, and the stress of the season leaves us with feelings of overwhelm. I used to be a big fan of the holiday, and though I love family togetherness, I don’t like feeling stressed out in general. And my bf and I do two dinners in one day, which is lovely, but I feel like I don’t really enjoy or live in the moment. Anyway, I have much to be thankful for so I shouldn’t complain… and I am SO thankful everyone got the memo to stop asking me about having kids.

    I always think of the movie “Home for the Holidays.” It’s one of my favorites, and sums up perfectly the imperfect spirit of the season 🙂 Sending much love your way and hope you had a wonderful weekend!

    • Courtney A. Casto on November 26, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      I’m thankful they got that memo too Charlotte! I’ve been enjoying the slower, less stressful pace of the holidays the past few years. I know a lot of people who balance multiple dinners and family visits. I know those visits can be rewarding but yes, definitely stressful.

      I actually don’t know if I’ve ever seen Home for the Holidays! I will have to make sure I watch it this year. Thanks for the suggestion!

  8. Kaitlyn @ Powered by Sass on November 26, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Celebrating holidays can be hard sometimes. I lost my beloved grandmother years ago and now live away from my family due to the military (my boyfriend serves). Thank you for this post! Sending love and hugs to those who need it most.

    • Courtney A. Casto on November 26, 2017 at 10:19 pm

      It is hard to be away from family during this time of year and it’s always happy/sad to think about those we’ve lost. I hope you had a nice holiday Kaitlyn!

  9. San on November 27, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Thanks for sharing so honestly, Courtney. Holidays can be difficult. I have the most loving family and a great relationship with them, but they’re 6000 miles away and things with my husband’s family are complicated, so we’re often alone on holidays and while I enjoy time with just my husband, I am also always a little sad that we don’t have anywhere to go.
    So yeah, it can be a mixed bag of emotions.

    • Courtney A. Casto on November 27, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Oh San, 6000 miles away is far! I’m sure you must miss your family terribly and the holidays always makes the distance seem even greater. I guess the holidays can make the emotional distance seem greater too. A mixed bag of emotions is right.

  10. Hannah on November 27, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    This is so real and touching! This year I was honestly just thankful that I could even out our table and set it for four this year, rather than three. Having an absent father hurts so much especially when it comes to “traditional” things. My fiance made four this year, he even cooked the turkey for us. He is not replacing anyone, or trying to, but not having that empty chair staring at me was nice for a change. I hope your Thanksgiving with your aunt was enjoyable! 🙂

    • Courtney A. Casto on November 27, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Oh Hannah, the empty chair is such a sad and powerful visible reminder of what we’ve lost or what we don’t have. I’m so glad your fiance was able to join you!

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