Hi hello hey there.

What a week, huh? I don’t know about yours, but mine has been a little cray cray. Do people still say cray cray? I might be dating myself with this one. When was that a thing? 2010? 2013? Who knows. Apparently it’s not dead though. #letsbringcraycrayback

Anywhoo – time to get real.

Thanksgiving. And age gaps. And the pressure.

If you know my dad, you know his quotes… Because he has his 10 go-to’s and uses them in EVERY possible application. To know him is to love him. And his quotes. One of my favorites goes something like this:

People tend to support the ideas they create.

He used to tell me this all the time. It was uber important to him to teach me not to just trust anyone and any idea. Even your own. Especially your own. You have to put your ideas in check, you know? We create crazy ideas all the time and then fight for them because they’re ours. But sometimes, oftentimes, they need to be evaluated. Last year, creating an over the top Thanksgiving was certainly my idea. And I supported it. Like. I REALLY supported it. And got a little caught up. And you want to know why?

It was my way of joining Brandon’s family. And my family. And trying to make this whole thing feel normal. And spectacular. All at the same time.

I wanted to prove that I could do this. I could be the hostess with the mostess. I could bring our families together for the very first time. In our home. And put on this traditional holiday meal. As if I had done this before. As if I had any clue what I was doing. No big deal, right? Wrong. It was a big deal. And I wish I wouldn’t have felt like I needed to be the expert. The absolute joy of an age gap relationship is learning new things that you didn’t know before. Trying things. And keeping a learners mentality is the key to success. Pretending like you have it all together will only create an enormous amount of pressure.

And I made our “traditional” thanksgiving far from traditional.

Thanksgiving 2017

The Workman/Dawson 2017 Thanksgiving looked a little something like this: I set our hallway with a 60-person table. I rented chairs, place settings, white linens – the whole kit and caboodle. We had a florist make our garland that stretched the length of the table. We had votives and candelabras lining the center, with each utensil perfectly laid out. The table setting alone took 3 people a total of 15 hours to put together and take down. We had a team working around the clock, printing name cards, coordinating deliveries, and even measuring the distance between the silverware.

And then there was the food. Oh god. The food. I did not cook for 60. I don’t cook, and Brandon knows what he’s marrying into. Instead, we had an amazing chef and her team come in and prepare the menu, shop, prep days before, and cook every last dish. From the turkeys, to creamed corn, to 3 kinds of stuffing, we had a downright feast.

And since the family was there, what could be less stressful than hiring a photographer to get the perfect family photos? Ha. The madness continued. Our amazing photographer captured every last detail. It was so unnecessary and a little over the top but I am incredibly grateful for all of the photos. This was a big moment and to have it all to look back on is a gift. 

The whole thing was fabulous. There’s no question. But it was wrought with pressure. And me being hellbent that I could do it all. Almost like a rite of passage. But unless you’ve been there, it’s hard to properly convey the emotions tied into what it’s like moving into your boyfriend’s home. With his kids. Where he’s celebrated holidays and created traditions. And trying to merge your family into his family for the very first time. He had some of his family members coming over that I had never even met.

But there I was. In the middle of it. Trying to define my place. And feel comfortable.

I was so uncomfortable.

When people ask how the age gap impacts our lives, these are the moments that the age gap really shows itself. Because let’s face it: the family dynamic is weird. It just is. We’ve all known each other since I was a kid. I’m the same age as most of the “adult’s” kids. The whole thing feels off. And the age gap is completely awkward for everyone. Holidays create create such pressure around what “should be” vs what is.

Dealing with the Pressure

If I could offer a piece of advice to anyone in an age gap or blending families during this Thanksgiving, I would absolutely encourage you to take any measure necessary in order to make yourself feel comfortable, confident, and in control. What ever that looks like for you. You absolutely have to start there. 

But if you find yourself overextending in order to prove some sort of point to your family, his family or to your partner – acknowledge it. Don’t pretend it’s not happening. Because it is okay. Last year, I used this big Thanksgiving ordeal to make myself feel comfortable in a situation where I felt out of place. And you know what? That’s okay too.

It is more than okay. Because these situations are challenging. They are beyond what most people see on the surface. There are dynamics that people will never understand. There’s pressure. There’s fear. There’s insecurity. There’s self-doubt. And there’s no rule book. No one’s there to guide you or make sure you’re on the right path.

What you have to remember is this: you have an infinite amount of strength and resolve. You define your love. And your happiness. And your worth. You get to choose all of those things. Not your in-laws. Not your parents. Not your siblings. No one but you. And even though family and holidays can be fraught with unforeseen tension and stress, they don’t dictate how you show up.

The turkey might be dry. The party might be a total bust. The people you wanted to show up and support you might not come. Your crazy uncle might talk your ear off. 

So remember to plan the holiday from a place of love. Because the only thing you can actually control is the place you operate out of. Last year, I threw thanksgiving from a place of insecurity. This year, Thanksgiving will be low-key and I’ve planned it from a place of gratitude. I am beyond grateful for where I’m at in life. Today. At this moment. I’m so far from achieving my goals. This has been a huge year of transition and change. But I am not going to spend this Thanksgiving feeling less than. I’m so damn proud of the progress I have made, the person I am becoming, and the work I have ahead of me to actualize my future.

So we’re getting back to basics this year. And the best part? Brandon took care of all the planning this time around. Just immediate family. None of the same fanfare. None of the fuss. No florists or name cards on the perfectly set table. Just a group of misfits, who I get to call family, coming together to share a moment of gratitude and love.

Since people tend to support the ideas they create, I’m 100% behind this new idea of Thanksgiving. And it’s a damn good one, if I do say so myself.

With love and gratitude – Xoxo Natalie


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