Thanksgiving without family (by choice)

Thanksgiving has been known to be a holiday of gathering and being thankful for what you have and the people in your life.  This is a time for family and friends to gather together and rejoice in each others presence.  

In my family, it has been a holiday of gathering with my immediate family as well as with extended family.  Traveling from home to home to give thanks and eat good food.  Over the years I have opted out of some activities but my parents have been very adamant about me keeping the tradition of bringing my family to give thanks along with my siblings and their families.  Personally, I love when we all get together and cook, talk, tell jokes, reminisce about when we were younger, and play family games. It is by far my most favorite time of the year.

Thanksgiving is that time of the year when nothing is expected of you, but to give thanks. It is one of the only major holidays where you don’t have to give a gift or buy a bunch of things to make it mean something.  It is a time of pure thankfulness. 

One year my parents told me they were not cooking and not having the family over but that they would be having dinner with relatives, I cried.  Grown adult me with five kids and a husband cried like a baby. How betrayed I felt and from that point on it has never been a question whether or not we were doing Thanksgiving together, just where.

Now there is a part of Thanksgiving I did feel I did not want to participate in anymore and that is visiting other households to give thanks with other families. I know how dare I feel this way. Well, I did and I still do.  I want this time with my immediate family (immediate meaning my children, my husband, my parents, my siblings, and their family) without preparing or rushing around to do other things like a visit with extended family and friends.  I want to sit around for hours with nowhere to be and just soak up my parents and my siblings and their families. I have been disappointed year after year because my parents continue to go and visit their siblings and their sibling’s families on Thanksgiving and my siblings go and visit with their in-laws. As I write this I see how bad it sounds, but it doesn’t change how I feel.

I know I am selfish and my actions and feelings will not be tolerated.

I don’t like that after two hours of quality time with the family everyone has to leave and run off to gather with other families. There was a time I did the same and I always felt uncomfortable. I fussed about everything. My mood was horrible. I know it’s just family, but the feeling is different than when I am in the “safety” of my immediate family. I can’t make you understand in one blog post, but maybe I will talk about it on my podcast. I just need folks to not make this about them and know that it is purely about me.

Now my husband family do not live in the same state with us, they are actually all over the U.S. so we try to visit his parents during Christmas time.  It also helps that his family do not really celebrate holidays, because the guilt of not visiting with them during the holidays is not there. We try to visit with his family during the summer or spring break.

Now maybe your reason for celebrating Thanksgiving without family is different.

  • It’s your first Thanksgiving married and you just want it to be you and your new husband.
  • You don’t live near family
  • You live in a different county
  • This is your first year on your own and you have decided not to travel home
  • You have no family
  • You like being alone during the holidays
  • You rather travel
  • You have to work
  • There is a family feud
  • You just want to stay in and relax, because it is one of your only days off
  • An illness keeps you away

the list could go on and on, but you have made the decision not to celebrate with family and you should not be punished for that.  If others don’t understand it is not your job to make them understand, but it is your job to tell them why you are declining because after all, it is a holiday that is meant to be spent with others. Do you have to, no, but it could make things go a lot smoother. Although you have decided not to attend the dinners and gatherings you are happy and content with knowing you did something you wanted to do and there are no hard feelings.

Some might same life is short and you need to surround yourself with family and friends because it may be the last time you see them. That statement is true, so why wait until a holiday to visit with them, visit during another time when the time together is special and meaningful.

My children are young and who knows when they become adults they may want to do other things on my favorite holiday, but I cannot be mad only disappointed. I do understand when things keep you away from family, but those are choices we live with individually. 

My oldest daughter did not have a choice this year because she is in another country.  I told her don’t be sad just create a new tradition and when time and finances allow we will come together and celebrate. 

I hope whatever you choose to do it is your choice and that in the end having a Thankful and Loving time of celebration is what you are rewarded with.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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