Ahhh, the Norman Rockwell version of Thanksgiving. It has become almost as iconic as Thanksgiving itself. It depicts the whole family gathered around the holiday table with the ginormous turkey that Mom/Grandma slaved over in the kitchen all day cooking to perfection.
In days gone by, this is precisely how most families spent the Thanksgiving holiday. As kids grew up and started their own families, they stayed in the same general area where they were raised, so going home for the holiday was easy to do.
As we all well know, that’s just not the case as much these days. We have become a far more mobile society thanks to the wonder of modern transportation. Now it’s far less likely for someone to actually remain in the area where they were raised. Most of us move on to different areas in search for greater opportunities as we make our way toward building our own lives and families. As a result, gone are the days of the entire family gathering together around the holiday table to share the Thanksgiving bird and all the trimmings.
That happens to be the position I find myself in this year. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my plans to spend the holiday with friends in Arizona had to be canceled. So, I’ll be spending Thanksgiving alone at home this year. Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve found myself at this rodeo. My family is nearly 2500 miles away and we don’t really get along that well anyway, so I haven’t spent Thanksgiving with my family in nearly 15 years and I’m actually fine with that. (Oops, did I write that out loud?)
Anyway, since I have a bit of first-hand experience spending the holiday alone, I thought I would pass along some of my wisdom on things you can do if you happen to find yourself in the same position. After all, I can’t be the only person in the world who spends Thanksgiving alone, right? If I am, just humor me and pretend that I’m not, m’kay? Thanks!
Here are some of my favorite things to do on Thanksgiving when I’m alone:
- Volunteer – Seriously, there is nothing that will make you more grateful than going and volunteering to feed those less fortunate on Thanksgiving. I’ve been doing this off and on for about 10 years and it never fails to inspire me and get my focus off feeling sorry for myself.
- Donate to Charity – If you can’t find an opportunity to volunteer in your area, then how about spending some time online making donations to your favorite charities. If you don’t have a particular one in mind, I highly recommend making a donation to BB’s Clean Water for Christmas Vol. 3 project. He’s the amazing son of our own editor Melissa who is giving up Christmas gifts for the third consecutive year in an effort to raise money via charity:water to fund wells in developing countries. I can’t make any guarantees, but it just might make your heart grow three sizes. I’ve already donated and you really don’t want me to show you up, right? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
- Go for a Run – In case you aren’t aware, most communities have a Turkey Trot (or something similarly named) that takes place on Thanksgiving morning. They usually have either a 5k or 10k, but some races have both. There are actually about a half dozen events within a 20 miles radius from me here in Southern California. Since you don’t have to spend the whole morning in the kitchen cooking, why not go out and get in some activity, and hey, maybe some new race bling for your collection!
- Go to a Movie – Going to the movies on Thanksgiving is definitely becoming a popular tradition. Part of that is probably due to the fact that it’s the kick-off weekend of the holiday movie season, so there is usually a nice selection of movies being released around Thanksgiving. That’s definitely true this year. Here is just a small subset of movie options available right now: Skyfall, Lincoln, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, Anna Karenina, Argo, and more!
- Go Christmas Shopping – Ok, ok, so Cyber Monday sales won’t actually start until the Monday after Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean you can start putting together your shopping list. Even beyond that, more and more retailers (both online and traditional brick and mortar) are actually starting their Black Friday sales ON Thanksgiving Day.
- Go Out to Eat – These days, it’s becoming more and more common for families to bypass the traditional home-cooked meal. As a result, there are generally several restaurants open on Thanksgiving day serving up the turkey with all the trimmings. Check with restaurants in your area to see if they’ll be offering Thanksgiving dinner. If you don’t feel comfortable eating in the restaurant alone, you can always order your dinner for take-out service and eat it at home with you …
- Watch Some Football – Watching Thanksgiving football is no longer just relegated to the guys. Watching football has become a popular pastime for women, too. I mean, really, what would Thanksgiving be without watching the Cowboys and Lions?
- Tradition It Is! – Thanksgiving just not Thanksgiving without the traditional home-cooked meal? Why not cook up a Thanksgiving meal for two. By doing that, you’ll still even have the best part of Thanksgiving — leftovers! If you really want to be keyed in with tradition, why not plan a Skype or Facetime video chat session to enjoy your meal along with the rest of your family as they enjoy theirs.
So, as you can see, there’s NO reason to sit around and mope about being alone on Thanksgiving. There are lots of things you can do to still make the holiday fun and meaningful.
Have you ever spent the Thanksgiving holiday alone? If so, how did you spend your day. Leave us a comment and share your ideas.