Maybe you just moved across the country to take your dream job and you have zero vacation time. Maybe you’re not close to your family. Maybe you’re way too broke to buy a plane ticket. Whatever the reason, when the time for a Thanksgiving celebration rolls around, you’ll be on your own.
Don’t do what I did – pretend the holiday doesn’t exist. It doesn’t work and it’s depressing. Holidays exist for a reason: they mark seasonal changes, they provide handy memory milestones, they provide space for rituals, and they give people reason to get come together.
Do take a moment to think about Thanksgiving traditions. What did you do or not do while growing up? What did you like? What did you dislike? What does Thanksgiving mean to you? Forget the myths you choked down in elementary school and the advertising that starts two weeks before Halloween. Forget the word “Thanksgiving” if it’s too loaded for you. Instead, ask, “What am I thankful for?” If things aren’t going so well lately, the answer might be as simple as “Being alive.” That’s okay. Just think about it.
Don’t go volunteer at the soup kitchen. You heard me: don’t go. Charities all over the country are swamped at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, but often go understaffed at other times of the year.
Do arrange to start volunteering after the holiday season.
Don’t sit at home by yourself eating takeout and watching The Simpsons and feeling sorry for yourself. That’s sad. That said, there’s nothing wrong with being by yourself on Thanksgiving if that’s what you choose. Make your favorite food, watch a favorite movie, read a favorite book.
Do read your old diaries to see how far you’ve come and remind yourself of the things you have to be thankful for.
Don’t be bitter. Not today. You’ve got indoor plumbing and on-demand potable water- you’re doing better than millions of people in the world in that regard.
Do write thank-you notes or letters to people who have touched your life in a positive way.
Don’t plan a big supper with people you only kind of like just because you don’t want to be alone.
Do go out. If you don’t have many friends in your new hometown (if your new apartment is in a new town), then check out a concert, play, or indie flick.