Alone At Thanksgiving

Although I’m a fan of Summer, the truth is, my favorite time of year is Fall. I love the holidays. There’s just something about the vibe of this time that gives me hope.

Like so many other people, I’ve spent my share of Thanksgiving Day and other holidays alone more than once. It started years ago, back when I was a teenager/young adult, I’d been invited to different people’s homes and when I picked one or two to visit, others seemed disappointed I wasn’t able to make it to theirs. They understood of course, but it never sat right with me. I loved all the families I grew up with and was grateful for all of them – but making it to everyone’s homes during the holidays was just impossible.

One year it came to a head and I decided I wasn’t visiting anyone anymore. I just wanted to be left alone. After that year, no one invited me again. And although a part of me felt thrown by the lack of invite from anyone at first, I got over it and started embracing it. Alone at Thanksgiving would be my personal holiday.  

Now, I know for a lot of people being alone at Thanksgiving isn’t because of a similar circumstance that I wrote above. Not everyone has the kind of wealth of friendship and family that I do – so trust me, I get it. I’m coming at this from a very privileged place. But it wasn’t always that way. And, it doesn’t mean that I can’t share, from my perspective, some things I do to celebrate and enjoy the holiday anyway and never feel so alone. Maybe it’ll help someone else. That’s my intention.

Version #1

  1. Embrace the day as YOUR personal holiday. A day to be grateful for all things YOU! Cook or buy your favorite foods to enjoy for yourself that day. Go for a long run, walk or bike ride to start the morning off, read your favorite book or watch your favorite movie with no interruption from anyone. Give yourself a manicure, do a facial treatment or just sit on the couch doing absolutely nothing but veg out – the only rule is – IT MUST BE GUILT FREE! It is a day of REST and QUIET from everything and everyone. One year, I bought paints and canvas and thought I’d try to paint for the first time ever. Let me be clear, I’m a horrible painter. Hahahaha!  And there will never be any evidence of that piece of “art” – but I remember that Thanksgiving as a fun one because I tried something new. So, yeah, maybe use the day to try something new?

Version #2

  • Embrace the day as YOUR personal holiday. Be grateful for all things YOU! Choose to go to a local church or shelter and give of your time volunteering. Here’s the best part about this – you don’t have to necessarily work. I mean, that would be great if you were up for helping with food, or something physical like that – but sometimes, it’s just about being there for someone else and listening. Talking to a homeless person and listening to their story could be the most amazing way to spend your personal holiday. The best part about this version, is that once you get a feel for what it’s like to help another person, no matter your circumstance, you want to do it more often. See, when you volunteer — the idea is that you’re doing something for someone else. But the truth is very different. When you help another, you’re actually helping yourself! It feels so good to give. Try it this holiday season!

Version #3

  • Embrace the day as YOUR personal holiday. Be grateful for all things YOU!  Make this holiday a powerful clean up day. Write a letter or list of goals you plan to accomplish by the end of year and start working on them today. I know this sounds like WORK, but remember all the times you said you wish you had some time to do this, or do that?  Here it is!  You have the entire day and possibly Friday if you don’t have to work, to get those basic things done. Let’s get to it!

This year, I’ll be doing a combination of 1 and 3 for sure. I’ll go for a long walk along the beach, watch the Ryan Reynold and Will Farrell movie Spirited and also plan out my end of year schedule as well as goals for first quarter or 2023. No plans on elaborate food items, but chocolate cake will be eaten with such joy and gratefulness on Thursday for sure! 

And I’m not sure about volunteering this Thanksgiving, but I’m open to the possibility if it strikes me to do so. What I commit to do this year is in lieu of going to help at a shelter, I’ll give a financial donation to a charity or to an individual who may need it.

Look, I know how this sounds. I know what I’ve written. It’s very different to choose to be alone during the holiday season than it is to be alone because you have no friends, no family and nowhere to go. I get it. But that’s the point. I was once exactly that person. There was a time when I had no one to. I cried alone all day and felt how unfair it was to not have a family. No friends. No one to rely on. No one to call home. And then, I changed my perspective – because honestly, I had no choice. I was just crying myself into further sadness. And I have always believed that if something isn’t working (in this case feeling sorry for myself and crying), then I have to figure out a new way to look at it. Move through it.

I decided to go from feeling bad about myself and my circumstance to trying to find the positives in my situation.  Here are a few of my favorites from that time:

  1. Not everyone in the world celebrates Thanksgiving. It really is just another day for most.
  2. If I think about it, most of my friends and family are stressed before, during and after Thanksgiving. The traveling, the hosting, the drama. That is not an exaggeration.
  3. I’ve romanticized the holiday because of movies and TV. There is no such thing as a perfect family that solves all their problems in an hour or over the holiday weekend.
  4. I’m not the only one who is alone on holidays.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I am saying it can be easier. Embrace the best parts of your circumstance, take steps to celebrate YOU during this holiday season. Do not keep digging the hole deeper – instead, if you must, just sit in it for a bit, and start to climb on out. Use this lovely holiday season to get back on track with understanding how beautiful, how lovely and how precious you really are to this thing we call life.  And never, ever again believe you are alone. I may not be there with you physically, but I got’chyu. I’m with you in spirit for sure. 

Have a lovely sweet Thanksgiving Holiday.

Carmen

4 thoughts on “Alone At Thanksgiving

  1. We all have our way of dealing with Thanksgiving. I prefer to be alone because of one I was unable to celebrate while in Vietnam. One of the lieutenants I served with had been shot and killed by an enemy sniper and the remaining junior officer and I could not get into the holiday a few days later. I am grateful for all of my friends who can share their holiday stories and insights but a few of us have had some experiences that make us less excited about Thanksgiving.

    I hope this doesn’t spoil a really great blog post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, you could never spoil my blog post. I appreciate you engaging and sharing your perspective. Second, I’m so sorry for the loss of your Lieutenant. I have no ability to understand what you must go through thinking of that day, but know that I truly am sorry on several levels.

      I intentionally stayed away in this post to talk about the reasons why people may be alone on Thanksgiving because I know, from my own experience, that some people have suffered a trauma that makes it impossible to want to “celebrate” in that way. My intention was to let people know, they are not alone. That several of us do choose to celebrate (or not celebrate) the holiday. But in my attempt to keep it positive, maybe I missed a valuable part — the why? Thank you for adding to my post — I think it actually helps it incredibly. Sending you a long overdue hug my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I hope, at the very least, it let’s people know it’s okay, even normal to be alone on the holidays. It is not indicative of who you are in the world. And hopefully, some will choose to celebrate that instead of being sad… thank you Rick! And Happy Thanksgiving to you!! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

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