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Nowhere to go on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Suggestions?


Hello friends. I spent the holidays with a close friend for many years, but he is not well, very reclusive this year, so we aren't spending the holidays together. I really don't have a family per se.

Life has been emotionally challenging from the very day of my diagnosis, and circumstances like this don't help. Does anyone have suggestions about what I can do on either of those holidays so I don't get down? Thanks.


  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,465

    Orangeflower - So sorry to hear about your situation. For family and Covid reasons, I too have been spending most holidays these last couple of years alone. First, let me say it's not really too bad. I get myself some "holiday" food at the local deli, and then I listen to music on the radio or play CD's - especially at Christmastime. I also have TV and the internet. I watch holiday related movies - send and receive messages from a few. Admittedly that stuff can all be a two sided coin. On the one hand it is nice and peaceful to have my own meal and to listen to music, watch holiday related movies, etc., but it can stir memories of missing family, etc.; but all in all it hasn't been too bad.

    Also, I work in a social services area, and part of my job takes me out to visit nursing homes, retirement homes, adult family homes, and some individuals who are in their own places, but who need some extra support. I have found that just visiting them, and seeing all the decorations that the different facilities put up, helps not only the people I visit, but also me (smile). I don't decorate here at home anymore either, so I have taken to really enjoying and appreciating the decorating that others do. I live in an apartment complex where others do put up trees, lights, garland on balconies, etc. and I can see it all from my window. I make sure to look at a lot of it and sort of "linger" with my gaze, if you will to get some of that holiday cheer. I also tell myself how I'm getting some of this enjoyment "for free" and without having to do the work myself. I also linger a bit at the mall (that is no longer here) and in stores that have holiday displays, etc.

    I also find that a lot of what I enjoyed over the years, when I shared these days with others, was buying the food and doing cards and gifts for other people, so I still do a lot of that. I buy myself specifically "holiday" food, because I just enjoy seeing and buying it - I might only need just a "taste" to satisfy my hunger - it's the psychological benefit I get from it. I also still have a few clients from the agency I work for who feel very left out if they don't receive Christmas gifts, so the agency makes sure that they get things. Well, I do the shopping for them, and I deliver on Christmas Eve, so "playing Santa Claus" for some others also helps.

    One of my agencies clients complained bitterly to me about not having anywhere to go on Thanksgiving and I did locate a church just a few blocks from her that was welcoming anyone. I told her about it and that she was more than welcome to go there, but she declined. That sort of thing could be an option too. If the religion is a turn off to some, there are also just some community and civic groups that provide dinner and company for those who would otherwise be alone. I've thought of taking advantage of those opportunities too, but have yet to actually do it. Fortunately, I do have a "fall back" with an old childhood friend whose family I've known ever since the days of the old "hood". They usually have a get together that I am always welcome at, but I have declined the invitation over the last couple of years because of Covid. Probably will again this year. Covid will also be the reason I don't go visit my brother at his retirement place on Thanksgiving also, but he will have "company" in the form of his fellow residents/neighbors. I just don't want to risk it.

    Again, I've found that being alone isn't necessarily all that bad and you can make it work. (Hope there is something useful in all of this for you.)

  • nopink2019
    nopink2019 Member Posts: 384

    I applaud your desire to "make a day of it" and plan ahead. I'm in a different boat, have a DH and a few close friends. One year we were hosting Thanksgiving for about 8. As I ran into people less close to us and started talking I found they had nothing planned and asked them to join us. It was delightful! Everyone brought a dish & got to meet new people. Yes, a few had to eat on their laps on the sofa, who cares? Chat up some lesser acquaintances that you think are eating with a few friends (not just close family) or a couple who may be eating just them and see what you can find. We got as much out of inviting the not close friends as we did chatting with those we see often.

  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 1,063

    Volunteer at or participate in a dinner put on by the community kitchen, a church or another organization. These events are not just for the food insecure and include others with nowhere else to go.

    Arrange in advance with the administration to visit a few people in a nursing home who never get visitors. Discuss the weather, what they remember, or just talk about anything / read to someone who can't really communicate.

    Have a meal/drink/coffee with someone via Zoom. It can be at breakfast if that other person has plans for later in the day.

    Cook something time consuming, maybe a dish from another culture. Play appropriate music, watch a related movie, and pretend you are in India, Argentina or Italy. Save the leftovers for later.

    Go somewhere with beautiful scenery or a park and have a winter picnic in natural surroundings by yourself.

    Drive someplace you have never been before just to see what it looks like. Bring food and eat in the car if necessary since most places will be closed.

    My favorite Thanksgiving was the year my dad got the key to a friend's seasonal beach cottage. There was a fireplace, we brought sleeping bags, but nobody remembered the electricity would be off. We spent the day exploring the empty beach, had peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, and played cards by firelight.

    Thanks to lung problems I'm still living the lockdown life and won't be able to have a meal with anyone but my husband until we can eat outside again. I'm cooking a turkey dinner since I really like the leftovers and will freeze what won't keep.

    Whatever it is, do something out of your ordinary. Wishing you a good holiday season!

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,465

    Orangeflower - Great ideas from Maggie15. Coffee and chat with someone via Zoom could be great like she suggested. I have co-workers who started doing "Zoom Happy Hours" with their friends, because of Covid.

    One idea I hadn't put in my previous post above, is to simply go out to a restaurant by yourself. I usually do it on Christmas Eve, and I've come to like it, although since Covid, I've made it take out and come back home with the food and have it alone, but I've still done my "holiday thing" and said "hi" and "Merry Christmas" to a few others in the process, so I'm good with that.

    As mentioned by others above, start a chat with some others at a restaurant or elsewhere, but you will not be the only one alone looking for company. Just look out and reach out a little bit, or enjoy the peace and quiet by yourself. There are definitely options!

  • kotchaj
    kotchaj Member Posts: 214

    These are all great ideas! I had my first Thanksgiving alone pre BC diagnosis while I was single and I volunteered to serve Thanksgiving dinner through a local agency. It was still a "hard" day as both of my parents are gone and I was an only child, but it was very fulfilling to help someone else. The last two years we as in my new husband and I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner with another couple for the college kids, athletes from all over the world, where I work. It was fun to do and we had about 18 kids show up to eat with us.

    We have also done a Friendsgiving as was mentioned before where everyone brought a dish to pass once we found out a lot of people were going to be spending the day alone.

    Our kids are busy with their own families and this year we are going to Florida for a few days which will be new for us with another couple in the same boat as we are.

    Some of the things I've done really pushed me out of my comfort zone, but they were the best memories:-)

    I love to drive around playing Christmas music and looking at the light displays as well. Load up your togo mug with some cocoa or hot cider and go and see some lights.

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,946

    Some of my favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas memories are from when I was in the Air Force. Those of us who weren't going home would celebrate together,. One year it was at the apartment my then-boyfriend had with another guy, and we invited all the strays in our work section (which included several of our regular friends, too), and everyone pitched in to help cook and tidy afterwards. Another year several young women in our dorm went to the Thanksgiving dinner served all day in the mess hall and hung out there, talking to different groups of people (Iwe also did this on at least one Christmas). Another year a co-worker I didn't know very well invited everyone in our office section to her mobile home. At that time, decades ago, we thought "Ick, trailer," but it was a very nice one, and she'd made a fabulous multi-course feast and everyone had a lovely time. And one memorable Christmas Eve, a group from my dorm did an impromptu Christmas caroling trek all around our base, serenading the top officers at their homes (they mostly ignored us or were briefly polite), then visiting people working night shifts in various spots around the base. Those were the grateful ones, working alone on Christmas Eve, far from home, and then a group of slightly off-key motley young women showed up to sing songs most of them had grown up with. Some of the workers just listened, some sang with us, and a few cried - I still wonder if it was homesickness or if we sounded that bad! But I know it was one of my favorite Christmas memories.

  • parakeetsrule
    parakeetsrule Member Posts: 605
    I would suggest not being shy about asking your neighbors. My neighborhood has active Facebook groups, Nextdoor, and Buy Nothing groups and there are many people who offer to host folks who don't have anywhere else to go. Or couples or small families who want to join up with others to have a bigger party. I've seen people posting saying they would like to join a gathering and multiple people volunteered. So that's an option!
  • elainetherese
    elainetherese Member Posts: 1,632

    My town has a big Christmas dinner for everyone at one of our high schools; maybe, your town does as well. The dinner involves lots of volunteers who enjoy getting the food and cafeteria ready.

    I will actually be spending Thanksgiving with one of my sons who has autism and intellectual disabilities and who can't travel (too much anxiety) as my husband, daughter and other son travel to Cincinnati to visit his four sisters who he hasn't seen since Covid. I have ordered special holiday food just for the two of us and look forward to sleeping in.

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,465

    Alice's post above jogged my memory a bit, so another possible suggestion: Alice said she had great holiday meals in the Air Force. Well the church Thanksgiving dinner location I had found for one of our agency clients, that I mentioned several posts above, was not only open to having her come, but their big thing every year was primarily hosting personnel from the local Naval base. If you live close to any military base, check around for community groups that sponsor holiday dinners for military people, because they are more often than not open to hosting non military as well, and it could be a good mix. I for one would have thoroughly enjoyed attending a dinner with all the military personnel. It would have been a world I don't know much about and would have felt like I was broadening my horizons and making new acquaintances with something interesting to share.

    Also want to second Parakeetsrule's suggestion for looking at sites like Facebook and NextDoor. I see all sorts of posts about this sort of thing on NextDoor. There are always local people willing to have your over if you just ask. You'd probably be offered a ride somewhere too. I've been amazed at the generosity and willingness of people on NextDoor to help their neighbors if they only ask. Oftentimes it is just that no one knows your situation and if they do, they are more than happy to help.

  • divinemrsm
    divinemrsm Member Posts: 6,201

    Keep in mind that even though a lot of families look like they're having the time of their lives with big gatherings, for some of them it is merely a superficial get together done out of obligation and they’d rather be elsewhere.

    While you could go out to a restaurant by yourself, you could also see if someone you know, an acquaintance or neighbor, may want to join you, even if it's just for coffee and pie and not a full meal.

    I like the idea of going for a scenic drive which is one of my favorite things to do any time of year. And/or take a walk through your neighborhood or at a park.

    Getting cozy at home can be fun and you don't have to limit yourself to holiday shows. One Christmas Eve I found myself in the bedroom watching Alfred Hitchcock's “The Birds" (a classic I love). I think the black and whiteness of it was a welcome break from all the red and green I saw everywhere else. My husband walked in the room and joked, “Well, that's Christmas-y!" But you could treat yourself and rent or buy a movie you've been wanting to see, settle in with some tasty snacks and enjoy!

    And to make it truly a day of giving thanks, why not write out a list of things you're grateful for. You could get creative and use colored paper and markers and add a some doodles or drawings. Ten things? Three? Twenty? You decide!

  • illimae
    illimae Member Posts: 5,646

    My husband and I have a friendsgiving each year but the one time he was out of town for the holiday, I made it a nice solo day. I roasted a chicken with mashed potatoes and stove top stuffing and had a movie marathon. No drama, crowds or big clean up, it was pretty nice and peaceful. The holiday can be whatever you want it to.