You don’t have family to spend Thanksgiving with? I’ve got some tips for you.
My experience with homelessness and moving away from family led me to spend many Thanksgiving holidays alone. The hardest part about being alone for the holidays is, being alone.
Holidays are deemed a time for family and friends, it’s easy to feel isolated because your holiday looks different. I’d love to reframe holidays as days to do what makes you happy. Period.
Through the years, I’ve found ways to make Thanksgiving special on my own.
I hope these tips provide some comfort.
Stay off social media
I know it’s hard, but spending a holiday alone is much easier if you’re not swiping into depression.
We know everyone is going to post their big happy families on the internet. It can be hard to see — and not compare — especially if you don’t have family around.
Decide how you want to spend the holiday
To start, ask yourself this question: What do you enjoy most about Thanksgiving?
Do you love gathering with lots of people? Everyone sitting around the table chatting away. Or do you enjoy the food? As long as you’re eating well, you’re good.
If you find yourself alone for Thanksgiving, it’s your opportunity to pick your own path and do whatever you want to do. Make your own holiday traditions with whatever you’ve got.
Once you’ve checked in with yourself on how you want to spend the holiday, let’s make it happen!
Ask someone if they have space at their table
It’s ok to let people know that you’re going to be alone for Thanksgiving. Especially if you don’t want to be alone. Their response may surprise you.
A few years ago, I was at a new job in a new city. My boss invited me to her house for Thanksgiving. It was the first time I ever had green bean casserole (not a fan) and a mojito (big fan).
We gathered around the table in her home with her family. It felt so good to be at a table for Thanksgiving eating a warm meal I didn’t have to cook.
Another year, I met a woman at a church I was going to. Her family welcomed me on Thanksgiving and Christmas that year. We went to her grandmother’s house for the good greens and her aunt’s house to play spades.
I let people know I didn’t have anywhere to spend Thanksgiving and they said “come to my house!”
Giving back for Thanksgiving isn’t just donating turkeys and canned foods, sometimes it’s opening your home (and your family) to a stranger so they can gather around a table too.
I’m thankful for all those families. Through each home I visited, I felt so much love, made core memories with strangers, and added their holiday traditions to mine.
Do your own thing if you want to
If you’d rather avoid the awkwardness of waltzing into a home you don’t know. It is ok to spend the holiday alone.
That doesn’t mean you can’t eat good!
Having a good hot meal is what makes Thanksgiving special to me. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner at home by myself has become one of my favorite ways to spend the holiday.
My ancestors guide my hands as I make my favorite dishes then I watch cozy movies and make a special cocktail that probably involves bourbon.
Leave the Thanksgiving cooking to professional chefs
Local hotels and restaurants often offer Thanksgiving meals for purchase. You can buy a meal and dine-in or pick it up to-go and heat at home.
The meals are fancy and come with three courses. I’ll treat myself to a fancy Thanksgiving dinner one of these years.
Pro Tip: The Salvation Army is known for hosting large Thanksgiving meals for free. Their mission is that no one goes hungry on Thanksgiving so pull up a chair and get a warm meal. Tap here to find a Salvation Army near you.
Just because you spend Thanksgiving alone doesn’t mean you’re mad, sad, or lonely.
If you find yourself alone for Thanksgiving, just know, you’re not alone.
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