If you're in a fair fight, you're using poor tactics.

Pilgrim on a Lonely Journey

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

This is the week of the mass American pilgrimage. Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, is the day we Americans travel home. It is the one holiday we all share, no matter what our religion. The day when we gather as families.

Some of us will have genuinely happy reunions. The stuff of Norman Rockwell.


Image from Office of War Information, 1942, wikimedia commons.

Image from Office of War Information, 1942,
wikimedia commons.


Most of us will have mixed days. A bit of hassle and a family fuss getting out the door. Then we will roll our eyes at Uncle Freddie’s bad jokes and Aunt Marge complaining that the dressing is dry. But once everyone settles in for the football, it will all be good.

For some, though, Thanksgiving will be a gut-wrenching ordeal — an endurance test of dysfunctional abuse that demoralizes and convinces us that we deserve nothing from life but the crumbs of inadequacy and failed expectations.

Most people who persist in that brutal existence do so from habit and from the fear of change. But a brave few walk away into the unknown with the conviction that whatever lies ahead, it cannot be worse than the hell they left behind. They quit showing up for the beatings.


Canstock 2014 Girl Alone with Suitcase

If you are having joyful reunions this week, we celebrate with you. Such family experiences are the source of strength that sustains us through life’s turmoil.

If you are biting your tongue in between hugs and laughter, we admire you for your tolerance and commitment. Such commitment is the foundation of civilization.

If you are suffering, our hearts and prayers go out to you in the hopes that one day, you too will get out.

And if you are one of the ones who walked away, we salute you. You will be alone this week, or with close friends, or with people you barely know who have unfamiliar traditions. If you have persevered down your lonely path, you may even be with a new family by now, making Norman Rockwell jealous.

We know what it took for you to walk away, and we count you as our family. Your “not being there” didn’t come for free, and we honor the price you pay each day. It never gets easy, but it does get better. This song says it all.



Wherever you are in Life’s pilgrimage this Thanksgiving, we wish you peace.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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30 thoughts on “ Pilgrim on a Lonely Journey

  1. You covered everyone in this post in such a thoughtful way. Life isn’t always easy and as much as many of us celebrate this holiday in a happy, positive environment, the reality is that many don’t. You’ve managed to send a warm hopeful message to all. Celebrate well!

  2. on ,
    Texanne said:

    And don’t forget the real empty chairs–those spots around the table that belong to a loved one who is deployed. And you know, right now I also feel for the families who are separated by incarceration. No idea why that came to me, but it did. Many thanks. 🙂

  3. on ,
    Vila said:

    Thank you Piper, for such a thoughtful blessing. I and my son will be both be working on Thanksgiving, and have to be away from my grand daughter and the rest of my family. Kind of depressing for me, but I still have much to be thankful for.

    • on ,
      J Holmes said:

      Hi Vila. I hope that you and your family can get a dayy off together for your own personal Thanksgiving Day. The date doesn’t matter. The family does.

  4. To both of you, Piper and Holmes, a big thank you from one who indeed had to walk away. But I’ve found what was missing in my beloved in-laws, the best thing my dh left to me. May you both have the kind of Thanksgiving two people who were able to write such a post deserve.

    • on ,
      J Holmes said:

      Hi Justine. Thank you for your kind words. To be fair. Piper Did all the work on this post. She is in her “writer monk” mode now so I am trying to keep communication going with our kind readers.

      May you have a great Thanksgiving.

  5. on ,
    lynettemburrows said:

    Lovely post. I’m one that walked away and forged new traditions and new bonds. The trials and tribulations of life, the folks who can’t go home, are things to remember today. Bless the folks who have no homes due to the storms, God be with our military folk who are separated from families and home, and with all the people (shelter workers, nurses, doctors, police, firemen, etc.) who work on this day caring for others. Warmest wishes to everyone!

  6. Piper, this could have been written for me. I walked away when I finally realized it was her (my mother) or me. It was scary to be on my own at 17, but there was no other way. And eventually I found my real family. 🙂

    • Bless your heart, Justine. I understand. It’s like chewing off a paw to save our lives, but once we let go, the most amazing things can fill that void if we let them. Thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂

  7. Love this, Piper!! May everyone be with their family of choice this holiday, whether it happens to be their family of chance or not.

    • Thank you, Kassandra. Like you, I hope everyone will be with their family of choice, or at least not with a family that doesn’t treat them well.

  8. Australians don’t have a thanksgiving holiday, but 17 or so years ago, my ex and I decided no longer to have Christmas in Melbourne, where we live, and go to a holiday spot 3 hours drive away for the Xmas – New year week.We had just become sick of walking on eggshells on Christmas day, while we waited to see who could take offence at what somebody else said. It’s been one of my deepest regrets that I wasn’t born into a more functional family. Walking away was difficult, but it was better than going through that one more time.

    • Exactly. At a certain point there comes that conviction that, though we may not know what waits for us “over there,” staying “here” is no longer an option. *high five* Wishing a peaceful holiday season your way.

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  10. I have been very fortunate. Compared to some horror stories I’ve heard I’ve had it pretty good, although my family is by no means perfect. I have a lot of good holiday memories. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Happy Thanksgiving, Michelle! I hope you had a wonderful day. I’m genuinely delighted that you have a loving family. *high five* *fist bump* *big hug*

  11. I didn’t walk away forever, but I have from time to time drawn lines and enforced boundaries. It’s incredibly painful. It’s also freeing. Excellent post!

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