Alone On Thanksgiving Day?

  Whether you are alone because your family lives far away or because the COVID-19 pandemic prevents you from being together, it is important to think about how you want the Thanksgiving holiday to go. For many single individuals, who make up about a third of all households, Thanksgiving (and Christmas or Chanukah) can feel gloomy or sad if there is no one to share it with. It is hard to ignore all those family scenes in commercials, and joyous songs just don’t make up for a shared meal and hugs with people you love.
Though we cannot control the pandemic, there are still some ways to make the holiday enjoyable. The five tips below can help you to take control of your day and give it more meaning.
Know that your celebration will look different this year and accept that you may also feel some negative emotions. Accept the feelings that occur even if they include sadness, loneliness, or nervousness. You may be grieving the traditions of holidays past but stop and ask yourself what you need to feel better. Try to focus on the present and what might make things feel even a little bit better. Would a phone call to a friend help, or perhaps a dish of ice cream?
Give your day some structure. Making no plans leaves you at the mercy of an empty refrigerator or a long day of random podcasts and TV reruns. Think about some things that you would like to do. Is cooking your thing and do you need to lay in provisions? Would homemade cookies help? What about binge-watching a program that you have been trying to make time for? Even scheduling in a nice long nap after a big lunch can be a way to have a plan. Personally, I can get excited about lying on the couch and reading a good book, which often leads to that wonderful restful nap.
Phone or zoom, it’s a way to connect. If you want to feel connected to others, find out who would like to meet you on Zoom for an appetizer or a glass of wine. Co-watch a program together on the computer. Have a long gab with a friend who is also alone. Making plans means that you, instead of staying solo all day, are initiating contact with others instead of waiting for them to reach out to you.
Try to identify what you want and make it happen. I can’t imagine Thanksgiving without turkey, so even if it means a lot of leftovers, there will be turkey on the table. Perhaps for you, it is watching a football game or decorating your house for Christmas. Whatever it is, pay attention to it, and plan in advance to make it come true.
Don’t let social media ruin your day. We all know that social media can lead you to compare your situation to someone else’s and finding yours’ wanting. Don’t compare what you are doing to those who have ten at the table. If it is making you feel bad, stop scrolling, and take a social media hiatus.
Practice gratitude and give back. Research has taught us that being grateful for what we have and giving to others can improve our own mood. If you are not able to serve at a soup kitchen, perhaps you can help others by collecting food for Thanksgiving baskets or be part of a local drive to provide warm jackets to the homeless. If you have friends who are quarantined in a distant state, volunteer to check their house or take care of their plants. You could even check with a local church or synagogue and see if you can help out another single person who is unable to shop for him- or herself.