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Monday, November 17, 2014

Embracing New Traditions After Divorce: Celebrating Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

It was 2010, and Thanksgiving was fast approaching. For the first time in all my life, I was going to be spending Thanksgiving alone. Thanksgiving, once I became a married woman, was always about my husband's relatives. We didn't live anywhere near mine, so we always traveled on the holiday, catching up with his side of the family. I never did mind that - I adored my in-laws and still do. 

When my husband left and we began the long, arduous process of going from "we" to "me", we agreed to split the holidays in an equitable fashion, and I insisted he keep Thanksgiving all to himself. The kids always loved to visit their aunts, uncles and cousins, and I wasn't going to take that away from them, particularly when it was only going to be the three of us and neither of my kids cared for turkey. 

So I signed up with a temp service in town to work over black Friday weekend - it made some badly needed extra money for Christmas and it kept me from sitting around feeling sorry for myself. The holiday was looming, and the last thing I wanted to do was make my kids feel terrible that Mom was going to be all alone. Even if Mom did feel terrible. And believe me, I did.

We were going into the weekend before Thanksgiving, and the kids were getting excited about leaving the following Wednesday. I was doing a mountain of laundry to get them packed, and a commercial came on the TV for an upcoming show. It was the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special.

My face lit up and I was instantly transported back to my college days. I had a cadre of great friends around me, all fun-loving spirits, and every year we'd tune in and celebrate Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It became a yearly tradition among us, and a source of many warm memories. 

I own the DVD - part of a set that also includes the Halloween and Christmas specials, too. I decided then and there, that the kids and I were going to do Thanksgiving up in grand style - Charlie Brown style! I made up my shopping list, and we headed out to the grocery store. 

"Jelly Beans? Ice Cream? Pretzels? Mom, what are we shopping for?" Anna asked.

"Thanksgiving!" I replied. "We already have bread and popcorn, so once we get the rest, we're ready to rock!"

She looked at me a bit strangely, but she was game. David thought a party sounded like fun, so with our goodies bagged and our spirits high, we headed home. 

I made a mountain of toast, scooped out the ice cream sundaes (extra chocolate on Anna's, please, no cherry) and set out bowls of pretzels and jelly beans while David monitored the popcorn in the microwave. Then we all settled on the couch, put in the DVD and laughed and cuddled and sorted jelly beans into color groups and had a catch-the-popcorn-in-your-mouth contest that left my carpet a fluffy, hull-covered mess. And when it was all done, we declared the first annual Charlie Brown Thanksgiving a complete success. 

This year, Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang will once again hold court among the popcorn and toast, and we'll try to see how fast we can sing "Over The River And Through The Woods" with a mouth full of jelly beans. Most of all, we'll love each other on this, our very own holiday.

Happy Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, from our house to yours!
[Picture courtesy of Iconix/Schultz]

Ellie is the author of Yoga Pants and Pinot: A Practical Guide to Divorce and her debut Young Adult fantasy novel, Traveler, is out in bookstores Feb 7, 2017.

Follow Ellie on Twitter and Facebook or visit her author blog (as L.E. DeLano)

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