Thanksgiving Alone

When I went to the gym yesterday, I asked the Lisa, a late 50s-ish woman at the front desk with whom I’ve chatted a bit, if she was cooking for Thanksgiving or other people were cooking for her.

She gave a wan smile. “Neither. It’s just me. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ll probably pick up a rotisserie chicken.”

I felt embarrassed. I know she’s divorced but I don’t know how long ago. It would be very unusual for a woman of her generation in the South not to have kids, but I don’t know whether she does or doesn’t. If we were cooking for Thanksgiving, I’d have been tempted to ask her to join, but we’re going to a restaurant.

Thanksgiving is Lambert’s and Jerri-Lynn’s favorite holiday. Neither of them are doing the stereotypical big family gathering. Lambert is happy to have graduated to the large group of friends format; Jerri’s cooking with her hubby.

But even though Thanksgiving has only a pale shadow of the commercialization of Christmas, it still has a lot of baggage of normalcy around it…of a big happy family mini-reunion, a poultry-focused feast, and often, watching holiday-appropirate TV, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade or football.

To confirm that I am not exaggerating with my interpretation, I Qwanted “Thanksgiving alone”. The first article that came up was 8 Delightful Ways to Have a Thanksgiving When You Are Alone at Morning Chores. The sugary headline is toothache-making. The article makes clear that “alone” is with her husband, but she still feels the absence of her mother-in-law, a matriarch who died recently.

I have to confess to not having warm associations with Thanksgiving. We moved a lot when I was a kid, so I repeatedly had just gotten to the point of having friends when we’d be uprooted. We saw very little of our extended family. The only occasions when we visited with any relatives over Thanksgiving were the two spells when we lived in Dayton and a couple of my mother’s aunts lived in Shaker Heights, a tony Cleveland suburb. We’d go see the aunt whose husband was the CEO of a coal company. It was always a tense affair because our hostess was strict about attire and manners. My mother was worried her brood would fall short and she’d get an earful later. The food wasn’t very good either. When just our immediate family did Thanksgiving, we always had a groaning board of the usual, and some not so usual, like rutabaga, but it never felt like a celebratory event.

The essence of what a good Thanksgiving ought to be about is conviviality, of spending time in a not-terribly structured way with people that are pleasant to be around, and with the holiday an excuse for having rich food and potables that almost force you into leisurely eating. For some people, their family is a good place to find or create that sort of event. And if unlike me, you have positive imprinting for a conventional Thanksgiving, not being with relatives, whether due to conflicting demands or frictions, is likely to be a downer.

One of my best Thanksgivings was pretty peculiar. In college, most kids lived nearby or flew home. A lot of the ones who didn’t would get themselves invited to a dinner with a family in the area. I didn’t think it was right to ask my parents to spring for a Thanksgiving flight; my two best friends came from families on the West Coast. So when I was between boyfriends, I’d be with the thin crew of students who were on campus during Thanksgiving.

When I was a senior, one of my friends, Willy, who was stranded on campus and I decided to rent a car to go to Maine and see my uncle Dick. I warned Willy that the house was pretty Spartan but Dick was an exceedingly nice man and we’d drive around and see the real Maine when tourists were gone and the winds were sharp. We didn’t know what to bring. We decided to show up with a six pack of beer and get him more provisions when we’d sussed out what he might need.

Cousin Fred, more accurately my father’s and Dick’s cousin who lived in a cabin on Dick’s land, dropped in shortly after we arrived. I didn’t know him well but quickly learned he was a nasty drunk and it took only two beers. He started haranguing both of us. After about 15 uncomfortable minutes, Willy and I exchanged looks. We stood up together and left. Dick was very apologetic and tried to persuade us to stay but we got into the car and drove back.

It was oddly exhilarating to walk out. Willy and I had a great time on the three hour ride back. And I’ve since learned as an adult that there aren’t many times you can abandon a bad situation and not have some loose ends, so this being such a surgical break was probably part of why it felt so liberating. So this was a good lesson, even if it didn’t map at all onto a normal Thanksgiving profile.

So if you are a Thanksgiving grinch, or would rather sleep in and see a movie or read a book than seek out company for the sake of not having to ‘splain that you spent Thanksgiving alone, I hope you find some accounts of solo or unconventional Thanksgivings in the comments section.

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  1. douglass truth

    In my younger days I wandered a lot, far from home, and often ended up working holiday shifts at restaurants, which I was more than happy to do, since I would have otherwise been spending them alone. In a kind of early Chris Arnade moment, I remember working Christmas day at a Denny’s on Lake City Way in Seattle, circa 1973, and it was a truly joyous event – all the otherwise lonely people celebrating together in Denny’s – “We’re Always Open.” It was as warm and delightful as most of my earlier holidays at home.

    1. Redlife2017

      That makes me think of the oddest (and loveliest) Thanksgiving I ever had. I was at a Denny’s…in central Tokyo…with my mom.

      So here my mom and I started wondering around the area near our hostel to find a place to eat. The Japanese were also celebrating their “Labor Thanksgiving Day” holiday as that is always on the 23rd of November (weird coincidence!), so there wasn’t lots open. I was dead-set against going to an American conglomerate in the middle of Tokyo as I wanted to be all “going native” as it were. But I finally relented as we were both hungry…And it was wonderful food (a Japanese Denny’s is AMAZING), lovely service, nice beer. And I got to have a lovely evening with my mom. That was probably the only time I really ever enjoyed / cared about Thanksgiving as we are more of a Christmas time family…

      1. Oh

        Redlife, thanks for the link. During the time I lived in Tokyo (quite a while ago) there was no Denny’s nor any of the fast food places (thank dog!) like MacDonalru or Wendy’s. This wendy’s looks like it’s totally different from the ones in the US and probably better!

    2. Heather

      Denny’s, I LOVE Denny’s! But it reminds me of my worst Thanksgiving, 2012. My son in law committed suicide several days before Thanksgiving, we all ran to my daughter’s and five year old grandson’s sides. All my children and sisters, even my Mom was there, but we had Thanksgiving at a Village Inn and the food was awful, and we barely spoke to each other, way too upset.
      Sorry, I know it’s a real downer, and usually we all really enjoy Thanksgiving in my family.

      1. eg

        My favourite Denny’s story — once on a road trip to Georgetown where a friend was in Grad School a van load of us stopped for breakfast. I inquired of the waitress whether or not a particular item came with toast, to which she replied somewhat wearily, “Honey, it’s Denny’s — there’s pictures on the menu …”

    3. Patrick Morrison

      My birth family was one of oft-times modest means. Over the course of time, we’ve had multiple Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations at various Denny’s, all warmly remembered.

    4. Steve H.

      We went to Denny’s last night, it was Open! In the parking lot we ran into Brooke, a waitress at Three Amigos, which is our happy place restaurant, so even though they were closed we got a touch.

      All the kids & grandkids but one were gathered in Chicago. Wonderful pictures, Unca Joe with upside down children, and the eldest rebooting on the couch, upright and lights out. Good day.

      And woke up to pumpkin and lemon meringue pie in the fridge. Joe must’ve snuck in and put them there when he got back to town in the wee hours. He’s A Good Boye!!!

  2. Geo

    Thanks for this. The season can be tough on people. Whether loneliness, recent loss of loved ones weighing heavy, or just going through a tough time and having to “celebrate” and feign joy.

    Still remember my first Thanksgiving alone. Was actually lovely. Was just 19 and was broke with a car that was dead so walked about two miles through mild blizzard to Shari’s Diner where I got a turkey sandwich and read a book. The next Thanksgiving I was in my first year of NYC living and took the train to a truck stop diner out in New Jersey and ate ’til I was fat for less than $20. Did some writing. Developed a love for solitary/introspective holidays.

    But, solitary holidays are enjoyable when it’s an option. Have known people who have solitary ones because they don’t have anyone, like the woman in your story, and it’s hard. I try to reach out to those people on the day. If you know anyone in that spot, please do the same.

    As a combat vet who had struggled with suicidal tendencies for years once told me, “If you’re thinking about them, call them. You never know, today might be the day and your call could save them.”

    Thanks for this lovely Thanksgiving note Yves, and for all you do.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Off The Street

      I moved to a new city far away for grad school, and the relocation and new surroundings were disorienting for quite a while. One of my classmates invited a few of us stranded people to his family’s Thanksgiving dinner, and it was quite a blessing. In addition to the wonderful meal, we also experienced great hospitality and met new people from across the world.

      Each Thanksgiving is an opportunity to count one’s blessings and to remember those not so fortunate.

  3. Perry

    I was a sophomore at Harvard College, very much overwhelmed by everything and so I decided to stay for Thanksgiving in order to dig myself out. The resident tutor at the co-op housing where I lived was a theology grad student, and she invited me along with others to join her for Thanksgiving at a local monastery, St. John the Evangelist (which of course now, forty years later, has a website She told us that usually the monks eat in silence but not for Thanksgiving, and that made it special for them. As I remember, we ate a long tables, simple food, I think vegetarian. Outside it was overcast, damp, and cold, but inside bright and warm, smelling of fresh-baked bread as I remember, the most memorable Thanksgiving of my entire life. I have never been back, but I think of it to this day, every time I drive past.

  4. Joe Well

    Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for your independent journalism.

    And I am in Argentina, a country surprisingly cut off from the non-Mercosur world and imported exotic foods like canned cranberry sauce or canned pumpkin, let alone turkey. I don’t eat meat anyway, and so will observe Thanksgiving by calling my mom and brother and sister and trying to watch a bit of the Macy’s parade.

  5. Minority position

    Thanksgiving Day for me personally is just another Thursday although immersed in the American cultural milieu it is of course impossible not to see eveything going on around. In my mid-late teens, after I freed myself from the intellectual gangsterism that is the Catholic Church, the idea of giving ‘thanks’ to a Flying Spaghetti Monster didn’t make any sense at all. And then I learned from Howard Zinn and others that the origin of this sublime holiday was in the colonists giving thanks to their God for not having been slaughtered by the native Indians, by virtue of their having slaughtered said Indians instead. No thanks. (Or, no ‘Thanks’.)

  6. lakecabs

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday also. But when I am away I always volunteer to work so others can be at their gatherings.

  7. the suck of sorrow

    For me the best thing about Thanksgiving is it is over tomorrow. As well, it ticks off another day to the inexorable march to Christmas. These holidays were never joyful occasions for me but the rampant commercialization of them has made them even less tolerable.
    I sincerely hope people have the good time they forcast having for the past week. Everyone deserves some fun! Mine will be the solitude.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I’m an all holiday season grinch, as well.
      from coldfronts and the resulting pain, to the enforced Joy! to cinnamon smells and jingle bells to frelling football madness and city hunters intruding into my dead end road redoubt, i loathe the whole mess.
      add in my 350 mile away family who refuse to get flu shots(or stay home when ill), and the crazy expectation that my routine must give way to theirs(breakfast at 11 am,lol), and i end up drunk and in bed watching tv by myself after doing my kitchen duty(resident chef…i cook glorious fancyness, when all and sundry want boring old traditional fare…the dryer the turkey the better).
      at least i get to enjoy the chef’s portion of those fancies(standing in the kitchen, as is proper) and wowing with chef wisdom all the goggleeyed relations from afar.
      then somebody wants to kill a deer….and i end up cold and wet and exhausted in the dark, because i alone know how to process a carcass,lol.

      frelling humbug.
      grumble grumble.
      i’d rather hibernate november-january.
      none of this, however, means that i wish all you NC-ers anything but a happy holidays and full bellies.
      because i most certainly do…from way down deep.
      …and stay safe on the roads! scanner has had at least 5 wrecks in the last 5 days.(and 2 deaths of despair, btw)…and this for a tiny, unpopulated place.

      1. polecat

        We at the polecat haus are having, thankfully, tacos .. with all the trimmins .. ground organic bovine, fajitas, and pintos .. the beans, not the equine. No hovering over a hot oven basting every 15 minutes, no worrying whether the bird is underdone ( imagine that turkey as depicted in the the film “the Accidental Tourist”.. Just the immediate fam of the three of us, which means no extended family dramas, thank Zeus !

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          my contribution today will be Oysters Rockefeller a la Amfortas(shells were too dirty(chickens having a feast today, too!), so i do a cassarole-ish thing on cool bread toast, w/ spinach, pumpernickle breadcrumbs, irish cheddar/gruyere, and herbs from my beds) and Shrimp Dianne(a paul prudhomme inspired thing that likely only me and my boys will eat, as it’s rather spicy—requires i make a stock from shrimp heads and shells), and baked flounder stuffed with spinach, peppers and portabella(and gruyere)
          and maybe, if there’s not too much of the boring, traditional fare, Redfish à la Meunière,(caught yesterday in Galveston) since i’ll be required to fry a bunch of shrimp anyway, and i can’t make just a little bit of seafood stock)
          such stretching of my Chef Wings is about the only thing i look forward to about holidays…but i have to compete with Mom’s automata and mindlessness, and run her out of the kitchen(Pandora on my fone accomplishes this task,lol)
          I’ll try to remember to take pictures of the finished artworks.

          1. polecat

            Well to hell with tacos .. I’ll be right over !!

            All joking aside, that sounds scrumptious, Amfortas. Happy Sea Turkey Day to you & yours !
            … and that goes for everyone here at NC – commentors and proprietors alike … sea or no sea.

          2. John Zelnicker

            @Amfortas the hippie
            November 28, 2019 at 11:41 am

            Now you’ve got my mouth watering, especially the Shrimp Diane and baked flounder. I’m a big fan of Paul Prudhomme and ate at his restaurant once a long time ago.

            I’m by myself today, but I really don’t feel alone. I have plenty to do and my dog to keep me company. My daughter, hubby, and child were supposed to go to his family’s dinner, but sadly, they all are down with various forms of the crud. They plan to come over Saturday (health permitting) and we’ll cook a relatively traditional TG meal and watch the Iron Bowl.

            For today, I have a thick, juicy, New York strip steak that I will cook to perfection.

            1. ambrit

              “For today, I have a thick, juicy, New York strip steak that I will cook to perfection.”
              You fiend!
              I’m right now doing my imitable Turkey drumstick stew, lots of vegetables etc. Baked sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, cranberrys cooked in lemon zest, lemon juice, maple syrup, and a hint of cinnamon. Like you, two of the kids will come over on Saturday.
              I do agree that Amfortas’ La Louisianne menu is jealousy inducing. I remember doing up fresh oysters with Phyl, I being a ‘pair of hands’ for her at that time. We’d get them from off the dock either in Waveland or Long Beach on the Coast. The flounder sounds wonderful. We used to gig flounders at the Waveland beach on the nights of the full moon when the flat flappers would come up to the shallows.
              Enjoy the day!
              (Hi from Phyl, back in the bedroom.)

              1. John Zelnicker

                Thanks, ambrit.

                All best wishes to you and Phyl.

                Flounder gigging is great fun. Are you familiar with the Jubilees that happen occasionally on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay?

                When the wind, water temperature, and dissolved oxygen come together in the right combination thousands of fish, crabs, and other water dwellers try to come up on the beach, although the exact mechanism is still a mystery. You can literally walk along the beach picking up crabs, flounder, and other fish. I remember being over there one summer as a kid and the shouts of “Jubilee” rang out up and down the beach for miles bringing everyone out with buckets, coolers, and gigs to gather seafood. Great fun.

                1. ambrit

                  The “Mobile Jubilee” is new to me. Something of a similar nature in Louisiana is when the crawfish migrate. They cross over the I-10 roadway between Kenner and Laplace in ‘battures.’ Several years I joined ‘expeditions’ to gather up the clawed edibles. We put them in: buckets, sacks, boxes, hampers, cages, coolers, bags, backpacks, pillowcases, duffle bags, cans, and every other sort of portable enclosure known to man. Eventually, the wee poor beasties ended up in someone’s stomach.

    2. SpringTexan

      Me too I spend maybe every third or fourth holiday briefly at a holiday gathering, but most holidays I’m happier alone with a quiet day, a few food treats (I chose tamales for today), a good book and a little wine. Often have a long phone call with a distant friend or sibling.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        We’re having tamales today too along with Shed-style posole.

        I always think of Thanksgiving as a harvest festival, and I’m celebrating two harvests in particular. I tried my homemade white wine yesterday to make sure it wouldn’t make it anybody sick. The experiment was a success, and although it’s not the best white wine I’ve ever had, it was drinkable and preserved through fermentation. Mission accomplished. Next year, I’m hoping to have more grapes.

        My other harvest I’m celebrating with some brownies that I’ll enjoy around 4:20.

        1. ambrit

          I remember reading Alice B Toklas’ recipie for that appetizing, in many ways, comestible. (Toklas was Gertrude Steins ‘life partner’ during the beginning of the Twentieth Century. They lived mainly in Paris.) Way back in the pre WW-2 days. Mother Nature always knows best.

  8. dbk

    Thanks for this thoughtful and pragmatic message.

    This morning’s post from the humble FB page I run, which is devoted to environmental, educational, and health (in)justice:

    “Our own Thanksgiving wish: that everyone may have a safe, warm and healthful place to live, sufficient food, and a network of loving friends and family to help them weather the storms.

    Humans are intensely, innately social beings. Our need for others starts at birth and ends with our last breath.

    We hope that you’ll reach out today to people you know who might be alone, who’ve lost loved ones this year, who may need to hear the kind voice of a friend or relation … ”

    1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

    NC is a community I value greatly – and so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all readers and commenters (and of course, Yves, Lambert, and Jerri-Lynn) a thanks-filled Thanksgiving.

  9. Paul Handover

    Yves, we are Brits living in Southern Oregon so Thanksgiving doesn’t have the same meaning for us. We are also both ‘seniors’. I want to reach out to the lady on her own and give her a virtual hug. I can’t imagine being on my own and don’t know what else to say. But I am affected by your post.

  10. Wukchumni

    My mom rebelled against having to cook on Thanksgiving when I was around 12, and from then on, we went out for Thanksgiving dinner all over L.A. to restaurants & hotels offering up a nice spread.

    The experience was pretty much stress free, and no leftovers to contend with.

    The worst one of all was @ the tony Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, which had a turkey roll in lieu of a full bird, as in parts is parts.

    1. JEHR

      Bless your Mom’s rebellion! I stopped cooking for everyone for about 20 years and my husband took over. Best years of my life.

      1. Laughingsong

        This is kind of where we are. We (Mom and siblings) used to always go to my sister’s and brother-in-law’s place in the California Gold Country, and she would cook the main dish, while Mom brought dessert and Gin Fizz makings, I brought veg dishes and snacks. But after Mom passed (Grandma passed 4 years earlier, a big blow to my sister as they were really close), my sister didn’t have the heart and we started having separate holidays (Christmas too).

        After a few years we both got over Mom’s passing (kind of— when the one person who loved you so unconditionally passes on, the world becomes a different place) but my sister got used to not having to do all that cooking, so we haven’t put together anything to replace the old tradition. When we do, it will likely be going out!

        My thanksgiving and Christmas tradition now is an open house format for those friends who have nothing else to do. We set up music, cheesy movies, board and card games, jigsaw puzzles. We cook a few main dishes and snacks, and everyone brings some food and drinks. People can come and go as they need. For Christmas my husband and I take the week off so that the whole week is a thing, starting after noon and going to ???

  11. Charles Yaker

    One year in Monterey, Ca my wife and I attended a community Thanksgiving. Don’t remember which civic group sponsored it. We sort of expected a lot of homeless but as it turned out it was overwhelmingly just folks that had nobody to celebrate with. Mainly singles and couples like us even some families were there. One of the volunteers actually two were a young 10 year old girl and her grandmother who was using this as a teaching opportunity. Donations optional but of courses we did. It’s a shame more community’s don’t do this because it was crowded. There a lot of people at loose ends during the holidays. Not enough people touching people especially during the Trump era we need more.

    On Passover we say “all who are hungry come and eat” although I haven’t seen much follow through and I am not sure if that’s from the secular seders I attended or also in the traditional guess I have to check that.

  12. Lee

    The manner in which the holidays are done, or would that be undone, ruins an otherwise perfectly good season.

    For some years now I have typically spent Thanksgiving and Christmas alone except for the very fine company of my critters. I live with one of my kids and the other lives nearby. Their mother lives about 150 miles away and they see her rarely, so on holidays they go to spend time with her. She does the Martha Stewart type thing, which I always found to be a distressing exercise inimical to a spirit of relaxed enjoyment. Being left alone on these days used to bother me but not any more. Okay, maybe it still does just a tiny little bit. Weather permitting I will ride my motorcycle or take a walk around the quiet streets of town and start rereading 1491. Oh, and my son cooked me a turkey before he left. So there’s that.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Since all of my closest living relatives are dead, I am no longer obligated to do the “Family at Thanksgiving” thing. I did when I was a child, but that was a long time ago.

      So, what’s on the agenda at the Arizona Slim Ranch? Well, there’s that big stack of library books to enjoy. Matter of fact, I just renewed all but one. That one’s on the wait list for other people, so it’s going back to the library on Saturday.

      Any bike rides? Nope. Walks? Nope. Why not? Rain. Big storm has been rolling in since yesterday. It’s supposed to continue into tomorrow.

      Happy Reading Day to my fellow bibliophiles!

      1. chuck roast

        Slim, your coolest relative remains alive and well…

        Today is the first day of the Xmas Season! Wicked good! You can play this tune every day for the next four weeks to get into the spirit of the “thing.”
        I’m gobbeling the bird and giving thanks with each large mouthful for Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn and the whole NC crew of fellow travelers who keep me from going postal.

      2. newcatty

        No morning walks here in Northern AZ , either. Cold and rainy as the big storm cometh. I just paused on watching , in occasional glimpses, the big parade. Why? Cause spouse is in shower and I want him to see the Catalina Foothills High School band strutting down the parade route in New York City! For the uninitiated in Tucson, AZ , history: as the name implies: in a desert city, the “foothills” are the affluent, “pretty” desert area to live in for the monied people. Though some pesky “apartment” people have infiltrated…Guess Catalina has made the big time! Well, at least the band.

        We are chilling out today with a nice dinner and goodies. As we will be snowed in, our daughter from OC, will join us for the ThanksChristmas visit and time together on Sunday after the deluge. It’s peaceful and fun to not have any expectations to “do the extended family play”. Best wishes for NC community for a peaceful and enjoyable( however you spend your day) day.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thanks, STO. Hope you do too. Good idea on the D3 vitamin as sunlight is limited this time of year here.

      Cartoonist Charles Schultz’s takes on some of the underlying themes in his show “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” still raise a smile or two here as well.

  13. Wukchumni

    My favorite Thanksgiving of an unconventional manner was at Saline hot springs (where i’d be now-soaking if it wasn’t for the potent storm) where about 175 people show up for a pot luck BYOT dinner @ the lower springs.

    We’ve been there many times before, but never for Thanksgiving, and we bought a pie & a cake in Boulder City Nv after coming off a kayak trip on the Colorado, and when I went to bring it to the potluck, there were 3x 10 foot tables full of pies & cakes of every variety that earlier tucker potlatch’ers had laid down. And those were just the desert tables…

    There’s a nice lawn (yes, I just called one complimentary) that everybody sits down on and dines, in a way not unlike hanging out in a hot spring, the conversation flows like you wouldn’t believe, and no electronic tethers have any reach out there to distract from.

    I look forward to going next year.

    1. Anon

      Yes, the Saline Valley is special. Especially since it was incorporated into Death Valley National Park.

      When I first drove that long dirt road (~40miles) from Hwy 136 (west entry into DVNP) to find the Warm Springs from the south I thought I’d run out of gas trying to get there and back. This was in 1980 before the Saline Valley was made part of DVNP. There was a whole ‘city’ of folks living in the bamboo (Arundo donax) and scrub brush near the warm springs. The Park Service now limits access and camping and has removed the non-native Arundo donax. The photo linked by Wuki shows the springs in its current more native appearance.

      Happy Thanksgiving to all adventurers.

  14. roadrider

    I personally have always despised Thanksgiving which I consider probably the dumbest holiday ever conceived of. What is the family-blogging sense of having the whole freaking country clog the highways and airports at the same freaking time? Who thought that this was a good idea?

    I made the exhausting, nerve-wracking and spirit destroying round-trip trek to Long Island from either Pennsylvania or Maryland for 30 something years and hated every minute of it. Now that my parents are deceased I have declared my retirement from Thanksgiving and told my remaining family that I’m happy to visit any time of the year except Thanksgiving.

    So I am enjoying my liberation from this ridiculous tradition and as far as being alone on this contrived holiday that means absolutely nothing to me … you must have me confused with someone who gives a family blog!

    1. Joe Well

      On the bright side, Thanksgiving is a good annual stress test of our failing transportation system. A real-world (admittedly very small-scale) drill for evacuations.

    2. Tom Bradford

      Fortunately down here in New Zealand we don’t have Thanksgiving and I don’t even know what one is supposed to be giving thanks for. Yves’ piece above seems to suggest it’s a day for family gatherings, but with Christmas only a month later why have one now?

      What is being pushed hard here now is “Black Friday” – which according to Wikipedia is “the day after Thanksgiving (which) has been regarded as the beginning of America’s Christmas shopping season since 1952, although the term “Black Friday” did not become widely used until more recent decades.”

      In short it’s all just an excuse for commercialism to put its hand in your pockets.

      I’ll have nothing to do with any of it.

  15. .Tom

    My better half and I moved to the US from Europe in the mid 90s so T-day doesn’t have much deep significance for us. To me it’s another curiosity of American life (there are so many). We’ve had a variety of experiences, including being invited to other families’ gatherings, which has always been wonderful and for which I am very thankful.

    Your gym’s front desk attendant’s story is sad because it suggests loneliness. A lot of holidays can be tough for lonely people. But I don’t want to jump to the conclusion that Lisa is chronically lonely. Her usual job could, depending on her and the clientele, be anything from pleasingly social to positively alienating.

    I tend to blame the inexorable growth and domination of consumerism and individualism in public ideology and of ruthlessness in business ideology for the crapification of service jobs such as front desk work. Staff under time pressure try to cope with demanding and superior clients. So the “8 Delightful Ways to Have a Thanksgiving When You Are Alone” article, proposing more consumerism and individualism as the solution to T-day loneliness, is ballsaching.

    Since I’m not alone I don’t have to plan to avoid it but a couple of things come to mind. First, I know someone who will spend the day lending support to the National Day of Mourning gathering at Plymouth. Second, there was a sign posted above the bar at Anchovies “Sick of your family? You will be. Bar opens at 8pm on Thursday.”

  16. Tom Pfotzer

    Holidays need a bit of a re-do, it seems. Holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving have some really nice ideas at their core, but we’ve somehow lumbered them down with a lot of un-helpful baggage.

    So lately I’m trying to shuck that baggage, and re-introduce myself to the holidays.

    Thanksgiving is for giving thanks, so that’s what I’m gonna do. This week I went to the farmer’s market and bought all that fresh, local food to include in this celebration meal.

    I’ll spend all of today in the kitchen, making a great meal to share with my terrific wife. I’ll be thankful for all the big and little things we are lucky to have. I’ll say it out loud.

    To those who are alone today, I am thinking of you, and wishing you well.

    1. Big River Bandido

      We have the same idea. This Christmas we are driving from New York to Iowa and Illinois to spend time with our families, so we decided to take this Thanksgiving easy and not spend so much (first time in several years we’ve done this). I’m usually insistent that Thanksgiving MUST include turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy…but this year, I made chili instead. It’s festive, inexpensive, and Mr. Bandido (a/k/a/ the Best Boyfriend Ever) loves mine.

      Working on an apple crisp this morning, a recipe my grandmother left me. Just to get a little bit of the tradition. I’ll get my turkey fix at Christmas.

    2. Eduardo


      Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. As a child in a poor family it was about the food.

      I have been very lucky. As a working adult it was about the food and giving thanks and usually days off from work. Now, retired and living outside the U.S. it is about giving thanks and giving back.

      And, today we’ll enjoy our vegan feast.

  17. Ed

    I’m not a big holiday person at all. If I had the opportunity to work overtime during a holiday I would always take it. When I was in graduate school one year I didn’t fly home for Thanksgiving by choice, and discovered that no restaurants (except maybe Denny’s, I didn’t check) were open in the area I lived, though some bars that served food opened up late that day. This isn’t the case where I lived now, but I learned that if I was alone I would probably have to plan to eat in on Thanksgiving at least.

    However currently I am married with one daughter and both parents are dead. My wife is not American and doesn’t really get the purely American holidays. So this had changed my attitude to be even less of a holiday person than I was even in the first place, my wife and i pretty much do the celebratory stuff for my daughter and I could see stopping altogether if she grew up and didn’t care. If I wasn’t married, once both my parents were dead I would still go to church on Christian feast days like Christmas but ignore all the secular stuff, Independence Day being the only possible secular exception.

    1. SpringTexan

      I always feel lucky to be the person who enjoys regular days more than holidays – after all, there are more of them! Every once in a while I get “into” some festivity, but it doesn’t happen as often as the holidays come around. I do like some minor parts of them such as Christmas cards (but my house generally has no tree or decoration).

      Possibly it’s my upbringing. We always observed the holidays conventionally, but in a rather perfunctory way. When my mother died in January 2000, my sister was devastated, and when the holidays came around that year, a friend who knew the depth of her grief remarked, “This must be so difficult for you, your first holiday without your mother,” and was shocked when my sister replied, “Oh, Mom didn’t care about Christmas.”

  18. Bobby Gladd

    I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday. This is my first Thanksgiving in Baltimore (it’s also my 39th wedding anniversary today). Interesting town. Glad we’re not traveling this year, given all the bad weather.

  19. Sailor Bud

    I’m your huckleberry. I’m back at university after never using my schooling when I was younger for career, so I’m staying at my hyperconservative father’s house for the whole semester with him and his Coulterish wife – both septuagenarians. He divorced my Mom about a decade after the affair with his mistress-now-wife started, with Mom alone and suffering from massive health issues that resulted in her early death in 2013. I tried to live and let live and be the son of both parents anyway, which my mother respected and encouraged because she was incredibly compassionate.

    My semester is almost finished, then I’m driving back to my house back East and moving onward. I’ve been at their house since August 20th. I’m very chill, so there have been few issues, but I mostly keep to myself and study since that’s what I’m here for. I use a room upstairs to study. Anywhere else in the house exposes me to their constant TV noise, because that’s all they do is watch TV.

    Dad is entrenched as the grandpa-patriarch of his wife’s family. He’s a know-it-all (so he thinks) doctor, and the whole family is MAGA types, with the little kids absolutely in love with guns, military, and rah-rah Americanism (all encouraged by the family), so I’m apolitically pleasant near all of them. The kids are actually quite friendly, so they’re no problem to me. Dad constantly pushes me to think of his wife’s side of his family as my own, which I do not. There have been various attempts at coercion and guilt over it by him, but I’m smart enough to see right through the absurdity of it.

    Anyway, they’re having something like 30 people over today. I dislike big crowds and there’s NFL football today, and it’s going to be loud, drinking, sports-loving adults and a bunch of kinetic kids. So I said this morning, “I hope you don’t mind if I spend most of the time in the study room,” and he was super upset and annoyed over it. He has no clue that introversion is normal, or that anything out of his understanding and behavior can even be normal. “It’s about family,” he’s shoveling at me, etc, totally not understanding or sympathizing with the fact that I don’t like crowds and I don’t consider this one family. I know five of them, and even “know” is a stretch there.

    The study room was a bad idea though. I’ll look really antisocial and I’d bet there would be constant intrusions anyway by curious kids, plus snickering judgement by the adults. I’m instead going to a park to study the whole time in my car. But I’ll be telling them I’m going to a friend’s house for the meal, saying I prefer the smaller gathering. At least that’s “normal” on Thanksgiving enough as an excuse he’d understand, but I’m 100% certain even that will get him fuming, since he’s prescribed that his family is mine and it’s sooo important that I be there. Such weird times.

    1. Arizona Slim

      If you were in Tucson, I’d clear off my kitchen table so you could spread out your books and notebooks and study up a storm!

    2. neo-realist

      I relate on some level to your plight: I grew up with relatives who were social, but also very overbearing and controlling. But their thing on thanksgiving day, and most other holidays, was to play cards. Card games do absolutely nothing for me, but most of them love them. I would have one aunt yell at me get over here and play . Pre smart phone, had to content myself with watching football, so I wouldn’t have to deal with them.

      Between significant others/wives, was very content to cook and eat corned beef and cabbage and watch football all by myself.

      Present significant other has a cool family that likes to play cranium, which I occasionally play and find way more enjoyable than cards.

      For the most part, possibly due to family upbringing, I tend to consider turkey day to be a contrived pleasantry fest that I just get through.

  20. marcyincny

    I think this post and the comments demonstrate the value of being free of a fixed notion of what Thanksgiving (or any official holiday) is supposed to be.

    After seventy-one years I’ve had a lot different Thanksgivings, some much like those in the comments above, but even by my standards this one is going to be odd.

    I’m just thankful today that the contractor’s crew isn’t here this morning and that I can spend the day cleaning up the damn plaster dust.

  21. Wukchumni

    My issue with the holidays, is it brings out the crazy in visitors to Sequoia NP, as too many @ once.

    This Thanksgiving will be quite eventful, as it’ll be snowing for the next week out, and it’s colder than a witch’s tit as an added bonus. Tire chains will be required for all vehicles ascending 4,000 feet into the kind of conditions few are used to, steep slippery icy roads and snow falling sideways & downwards. If it wasn’t Thanksgiving week, NPS would probably just close down the road & NP, as they did last year when a similar punishing storm came calling, but no.

  22. Pelham

    Hmm. Thank you, Yves, and the commenters. Perhaps one track toward a better Thanksgiving would focus on two things:

    1) Finding a way to actually give thanks, or at least feel momentarily grateful, for whatever you have that’s worthy of it. Many of us, I know, won’t have much in that way, but taking just one day out of the year to dwell on even the most modest blessing might be helpful;

    2) And finding a way to make the holiday pleasant, or even joyous. This could require months of planning, I suppose, but for me, there’s a strong religious element that somehow hoists much of the weight and burden of the day off my shoulders. Same for Christmas and Easter. But, again, that’s just me.

    1. Rod

      Yes, I agree.

      My first thought this morning when I realized I was awake was how thankful I was for waking up in the calm of this morning.

      My second, and more rewarding, thought was thankfulness for the first thought of being thankful upon waking. I made sure I reflected on that just a bit before rising to start the coffee.

      a great start to any day…

      and the CGiC comment below:
      Yves, you have been outdoing yourself lately by inviting us to share what is in our hearts as well as what is in our minds.

      and I would add, imo, sharing is a fundamental cornerstone of any community…

  23. ChiGal in Carolina

    I am alone this year and have been before, living far from family, though usually in Chicago I am with friends. Down here ironically I am opting out of toxic family today and got the usual sides from a really great local cooperative grocery store, will roast a turkey breast, and will have yummy leftovers for when my mom will be with me on Friday.

    Somehow this year it is not just getting through it, though of course (having grown up with the traditional dinner and family gathered as “normal”) there is a little of that.

    I have been schooling myself in polyvagal theory and interpersonal neurobiology since returning to work, and applying what I encourage patients to do to myself.

    Mindfulness meditation doesn’t always do the trick, but right now I am in a good place. The key to the cosmos is letting go of judgement. What you are left with is not feeling things have to be a certain way to be okay; paradoxically, it is even okay that it is not okay that my son is dead.

    Accurate attunement with yourself creates the same benefits as secure attachment in childhood. Today I do not feel isolated, and I am not alone: I am on my own.

    And grateful for the endlessly fascinating work I do; for the time and memories of my son; for the sunshine that is predicted for today; and of course for the NC community.

    Yves, you have been outdoing yourself lately by inviting us to share what is in our hearts as well as what is in our minds.

    In the words of the great Al Green, Love and Happiness to all.

    1. psv

      Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us, something for me to think about. Best of luck with your cooking, and hope you enjoy your leftovers with your mom.

  24. Lona

    A ‘Turkey Trot’ 5k in the morning is a good way to be with people and also do your own thing, if you are able. I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood that sponsors one. There are social opportunities before and after the race and the exercise is kind of a pre-atonement for overindulging later in the day.

  25. Wukchumni

    I’d be remiss without mentioning those that won’t be home this holiday, and whom i’m thankful for, which is not usually the case.

    With regards from a…

    …Long Suffering Bills Fan

    1. eg

      At least your team doesn’t get ritually humilated every Thanksgiving on national television. Can you imagine being a Lions fan?

      Even the darkest days of my Pats fanhood in the ’70s was endured in relative anonymity …

      1. Howard Beale IV

        I believe that the end of the world will occur when the Detroit Lions play the Cleveland Browns in The Last Super Bowl.

      2. Wukchumni

        At least your team doesn’t get ritually humilated every Thanksgiving on national television. Can you imagine being a Lions fan?

        Another come from ahead loss for the Lions on Thanksgiving, the pivotal moment coming when the other team did a trick play with a lineman holding a wood chair aloft in a menacing manner while cracking a bullwhip across the line of scrimmage.

  26. Howard Browne

    Your article brought back memories of my Thanksgiving’s as a student at Ohio State many years ago. My parents lived in Havana, Cuba, so going home for four days, though possible, did not make sense. Had Turkey dinner at the women’s cafeteria, maybe twenty students from all over. Came back and watched the Bears versus Lions. Did some studying but basically I did nothing for four days. Good memories.

  27. anon y'mouse

    dim memories.

    a companion and i once grabbed a bag of shrimp, a bag of french fries and drove from Half Moon Bay to Stinson Beach, along a nearly deserted Hwy 1. nice clear, cool autumn day and no crowds. i think there were a few years were we also invaded various state parks for hikes when no one would be around.

    a few friends had heard about a church in S.F. one year that put on a big spread that was free for the homeless, but open to everyone. so we went and ate a modest plate each while dropping some multiple of what we would have paid at a restaurant. very convivial atmosphere, and all kinds of people were there. and this was before the homeless “explosion”, but there was a very brusque business going on there. can’t for the life of me remember which church it was affiliated with. forget where else we wandered around in the city that day.

    although cold (northern CA beaches are nearly always cold or at least cool, or were then), it is always a nice day to go to the beach. or to a park, or anywhere else that would be full of people on a nice weather day. especially if you can not really handle crowds.

    that lady probably dreads the question slightly, since she knows her response will likely elicit the feelings in this post, or at very least pity. i know i do!

    1. Laughingsong

      Ah that would likely be the Glide Memorial Church… when I lived in the City back in the 80s I volunteered there for Thanksgiving once or twice. Great people, at least back then.. I am pretty sure that they still do that. Maybe I will go look it up.

  28. sd

    For years, we’ve done a sort of loosely potluck style dinner with a big group that we fondly call the orphans. We get together and just have a good time.

    All of us are estranged from family, have no family, singles, family too far away to travel to, spouses who have to work or travel away, etc. It’s always been an open door policy, come on by, grab a plate. It started years ago when I lived in a not so glamorous loft building. At the time, it turned out, just above everyone I knew was an orphan at Thanksgiving and pretty much continued the tradition ever since.

    1. Anarcissie

      A friend of mine, now unfortunately moved to the mysterious Midwest, used to have an Unthanksgiving each year on the appointed day. No relatives, no in-laws, no football game, no fights, no piety, and only a few spouses (spice), generally speaking a potluck. In no way was anyone a poor little orphan! We belonged! I recommend this to one and all. I have many dire Thanksgiving tales, but since everyone else here is so happy and cheerful, I’ll shut up.

      1. sd

        The thing about dire tales is that when they become faint history, they can sometimes turn into very dark comedy….I’ll share mine.

        Thanksgiving invitation two hour drive away and upon arrival, served Ritz crackers with cheese whiz by hosts who didn’t leave their lazyboys in front of a blaring TV. Politely left after an hour when it became obvious that was it.

        Last time I visited “family” for a holiday.

  29. shinola

    Wifey & I are staying home this year. Although we made that decision a couple of weeks ago, it turned out for the best as there is a mix of light rain/sleet coming down right now. 3 out of our 4 parents are gone now so it’s just not the same. Siblings have their own children & grandchildren so family gatherings can be rather, uh, hectic. A peaceful Thanksgiving day is a blessing.

    Best wishes & thanks to Yves, Lambert, JLS & everyone who keeps NC going (and to the most interesting “commentariat” I’ve encountered anywhere).

  30. William Hunter Duncan

    Thank you Yves. I have a great deal of gratitude for this website. I hope the day goes well for you. Blessings.

  31. Eureka Springs

    As I sip coffee and nibble from a bowl of roasted seasoned pecans with a warm fire behind this screen I can easily declare Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Even as I decidedly spend it alone this year. I’ve had the great fortune of spending the last few weeks on the road either with dear old friends on a ten thousand acre farm including thousands of acres of old growth cypress swamp. The best foods imaginable, great camaraderie, most of the daylight hours in nature hunting deer among alligators and mountain lions and preparing duck blinds for the season ahead.

    In the middle of all that a group of somewhat new friends all gathered in New Orleans for several days of dancing, dining, walking, a lot of walking, visiting the surprisingly wonderful New Orleans Museum of Art. I still love New Orleans and airbnb for that mater, despite the fact NOLA is allowing too many residences to be zoned for airbnb. The residential rental market is now too expensive for those who work and live there.

    So I’m happy to be home for a short spell before setting out on more adventures. I declined invitations to stuffy parents of friends homes who will most certainly pretend cardboard which might as well be a 3-d printed simulation of a bird called turkey tastes good. The roasted pecans, butternut squash soup, roast venison and ginger bread I’ve made for the rainy weekend have already been shared with visiting friends. Think I’ll make my grandmothers mock apple pie for old times sake.

    My motto whether alone or in great company is if at least a couple hours of everyday aren’t lived as if it’s Thanksgiving, I’m not living right.

  32. Ignacio

    Sadly, in Spain we have imported only the ‘black friday’, generally a scam, without the good stuff associated with Thanksgiving. I have very good memories of a Thanksgiving gathering in Prescott, Arizona.


  33. Krystyn Walentka

    I am currently reading Christopher Ryan’s “Civilized to Death”. In it is an anecdote he shares when talking to an African Hunter/Gatherer who said; “The best place to store food is in your neighbors’ stomach.”

    By the way, very good book so far, not much new to me but good for people who still think progress=good.

    But being that Thanksgiving is a harvest festival, all it represents to me is capitalist fear and scarcity. Nonetheless I was invited to my friends house, the patriarch is an old school famous Hollywood writer, and will be joined with my slumlord landlord and his kids. Becoming somewhat of a tradition, the hostess and I get drunk and live in our own world floating around everything while everyone else still thinks we are on the same plane. I will have to bite my tongue to not go off on my slumlord. I found out he wants me out in January and he just disconnected the internet he provided for free as part of the rent.

    1. anon y'mouse

      harvest festivals predate capitalism by a few thousand years.

      having a bounty of food on hand is an ageless sign of hospitality, the giving of which has been religiously revered among all human cultures as far as i can tell. takes different forms dependent upon agriculturist, horticulturist, etc. but seems to be a universal human society thing.

      maybe we can forgive the holiday itself, even if we can’t forgive our culture’s incessant capitalizing upon it.

      1. Krystyn Walentka

        It is in no way universal if you do not conveniently forget about all the foraging people of the world bith past and present.

        Read Christopher Ryan’s “Civilized to Death” to understand more about what I am talking about, but in brief, agriculture=capitalism so a harvest festival is no different than a Christmas bonus check.

  34. Terence Dodge

    House sitting “alone” south of Nampa Idaho. Farm owner is off with her family and needed a minder for the chickens and barn cats ( seldom seen ). I cannot actually remember any particulars of childhood thanksgivings. So those occasions might have been good or bad? Been doing solo thanksgiving since my wife died except for the occasional invite from a friend to join their family, my surviving family is dysfunction enough that I “try” avoid those holiday opportunities.

    I had an early breakfast and that will be it for the day. Reading Fukuyama “Political Order and Political Decay”, watching the chickens out the window, reading NC, listening to 538 podcast, yada yada.

    Enjoy your thanksgiving if you observe it, NC rocks.


  35. JEHR

    Today on my walk, I saw three very big turkeys cross the road from one snowy corn field to another. I’ve often heard them in the spring but this is the closest I’ve been to look at them. They looked very healthy. Apparently, someone in Maine is trying to re-populate the bush around here with turkeys that used to be prolific in the area. That’s my U.S. Thanksgiving story.

  36. urblintz

    Not a holiday person in general because I get nervous around too much commotion, even if it’s good spirited commotion and, more importantly, because I’m the guy who can’t keep his mouth shut and always says something political. I’m not proud of that. I’m Greek, so sometimes I think it’s genetic. As often as not, removing myself from those situations which I might thus upend is sometimes the best choice for everyone.

    Growing up I loved Thanksgiving for one thing most of all: my mom’s cooking.

    But I have to say that my most memorable Thansgiving was when I was 15 in 1972. I was living in Franco’s (who still wasn’t dead yet) Spain, my father – a College professor of Spanish and Spanish Lit – had taken a group of students to Madrid for a “junior year abroad” program and the whole family went with. “American” culture had just begun to emerge in some places and there was a high-end Burger joint – the “Hollywood” of course -which offered a turkey dinner for USians… and they got it right! Wasn’t my mom’s cooking but it was genuinely tasty and definitely helped assuage my homesickness.

  37. clonalantibody

    I will be spending Thanksgiving with my two cats. So not really alone! However this is just one day, just like any other day, as far as I am concerned.

    I will be spending my time researching, and developing my Climate Change reversal plans and methods, along with a few other healthcare related projects.

    So Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

    PS – Some people may like the work being done by

  38. eg

    In Canada our Thanksgiving is comparatively low key, and much earlier (the second Monday in October). Watching the US frenzy of travel, football and turduckens et al only about a month before it happens all over again at Christmas is kind of puzzling. Also of note it seems every US network television show has to have a Thanksgiving episode around this time of year.

    But the part that has crossed the border (especially online, where there apparently are no borders) with a vengeance is “Black Friday” — ye gods, Mammon-worship run amok …

    1. Arizona Slim

      Couldn’t you tell Black Friday that it has overstayed its visa and that it’s going to be deported back to the States? Not that we want it back, but…

  39. Lougee

    Currently spending Thanksgiving alone. I’m a very social person, but honestly it’s great to just sit alone and read today.

  40. Kate

    Myself, I am thankful above all for this community; I especially appreciate these opportunities to reveal truths from our real lives–which are inseparable from the political economy, how we survive in it, how we feel about it. I will not be spending Thanksgiving alone, but because of the recent loss of my husband, I tend to project a fear of eventual loneliness into every occasion. Thus the empowerment of these various comments. Life is what you make of it, and choosing to take a deep dive into a good book, for example, intentionally relishing the opportunity, is a thought that will serve me well this holiday season. Today I am going to take a windy hike: the East Bay has gone from serious fire warnings less than two weeks ago to a (very welcomed) cold and wet storm. If that were the only thing for which to be grateful, it would be enough!

  41. Idland

    I have had 60+ years of traditional Thanksgiving dinners, many in Prescott AZ. Wife and parents gone on ahead, sibs and offspring scattered to the four winds, and I guess this is my first solo. Frankly, I am really digging it. No cooking, big plate of cold cuts and plenty of coors and a nice stack of library books. Thankful for the NC community.

  42. Annotherone

    I don’t comment here these days, but do continue to read and appreciate. Today is a good one on which to say a big thank you to Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn and all their back-room helpers, and of course to the great group of regular commenters. Greetings to all, whether doing Thanksgiving traditionally or quirkily.

    We’ll be going out to eat with husband’s eldest daughter and son-in-law – Applebee’s is the best this smallish town has to offer, it ain’t up to elitist foodies’ standards, but their turkey dinner ain’t that bad, and there’s alcohol available for those who need something to help it down. We’ll get together with the rest of husband’s family on Christmas Eve, as usual – all being well.

    I’m very grateful to be here for Thanksgiving this year – my 15th in the USA (English by birth, now aged 80). My early breast cancer has spread to bones, to one femur in particular – not terminal but painful when walking, unless dosed up (which I shall make sure I am today)!

    1. sd

      Wishing you the very best this Thanksgiving and that your spirit of choice does it work as cheerily as possible under the circumstances.

      1. Annotherone

        Thank you kindly, sd. My spirit of choice substitute will need to be in tablet form this year -but it’ll do the job. There’s always medical marijuana to fall back on, here in OK (which is likely what I’d be doing (falling back) if I were to rely too much on that. :)

  43. dcblogger

    years ago I remember a guest sermon the first Sunday of Advent called “Rescripting Christmas” it was given by a woman and it was about trying to provide the perfect Christmas and duplicating the Christmas of your childhood and how family members do not necessarily conform to their assigned parts. She explained how you had to “rescript” Christmas and not bring your baggage to it. It was really directed towards moms and not to put pressure on yourself to provide the perfect Christmas, but it was one of the best sermons I have ever heard. I think in the aftermath of the great crash of 2008 there are so many of us who have to rescript our entire life.

  44. GregS

    “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

    ― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

  45. Carl in Wisconsin

    When I was a kid in the ’50s and ’60s, every year at Thanksgiving dinner my father would tell the story of how back in the Depression they were too poor to afford a turkey. One year it was so bad that all they had was potato pancakes. Dad is long gone now and my sibs are all widely dispersed but every once in a while at least some of us are able to get together on this day. I always make sure that amongst the plethora of delights on the table we include potato pancakes and apple sauce.

    1. Oregoncharles

      One memorable Thanksgiving for our family was the year I’d just been hit by a car, taking a bad hit to the head and a ripped-up rear end (sitting in class on one cheek for weeks was a notable part of the experience.) Anyway, we were in no shape to make a traditional T-day feast, so we had spaghetti carbonara. It was delicious.

      Not alone because I live with my wife and son, but we’re having two Thanksgivings; we got together with my stepson and his family (also 3) last weekend so they could join his wife’s family this week. The fancy restaurant turned out to be closed, so we had Thai takeout. Very good.

      And this evening we’re about to have a more-or-less traditional turkey spread, a little simplified, just the 3 of us.

      Best wishes and gratitude to all who make this place what it is.

    1. ambrit

      Alas, I do not. Is that part of Timothy Leary’s “Sermon in the Canyon?”
      (It could be a mis-attributed ‘teaching’ of Pere Ubu from the Mauve Decade.)

  46. boz

    Not being American, my Thanksgiving Day is distinctly ordinary today.

    That said, Mrs boz and I have started a routine with the kids, where we always end the day calling out something we are grateful for. It’s sometimes rather needed after a long and grumpy day!

    I am very grateful for NC and the whole community. I don’t agree with every single comment, but the community gives me perspective and keeps me grounded, which is a great thing.

    The calendars and seasons are there to be “filled in”, however you choose to do it, do it with intention and wholeheartedness.


  47. Hepativore

    I have spent Thanksgiving with just myself and my cat for the past three years. My parents live very far away and I am a 35-year-old bachelor with no children.

    Still, I am grateful for my cat, as he is a very friendly cat and is certainly a better companion than any human roommate could be.

    Even though it is just us, I am making a turkey with side dishes of mashed potatoes, corn, roasted pumpkin, and gravy. This way, I do not have to cook for a week and a half or so, and turkey is quite economical for what you get for your money. Cooking a turkey is quite easy, as it is one of those things that you can shove in the oven for a few hours while doing other things.

    Here is a tip…if you are going to buy a turkey, try and select the largest one you can find. The larger the turkey, the higher the meat-to-bone ratio; especially in birds larger than 14 pounds so you can get the most meat per pound of weight.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There was a great easy recipe in the WSJ of all places for leftover turkey soup. You could make the stock and freeze it and then thaw it and put the other ingredients in. I’m the laziest cook in the world and this looked like something even I might be willing to do. I don’t see why you would discard any meat bits in the stock. however, if you have the patience to separate them after you’ve strained the stock:

      The stock-making part is so simple it requires no recipe. “I serve turkey carved off the bone and then put the carcass, roasted skin and any leftover bits into a stock pot,” said Ms. Killeen. Cover those tasty scraps with at least 2 inches of water plus aromatics such as carrots and onions. To end up with enough stock for the recipe below, start off with at least 12 cups of water. Then simmer for as long as possible. It’s done when it’s delicious, and all that’s left to do is strain.

      TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes SERVES: 4

      Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

      8 cups turkey or rich chicken stock

      4 eggs

      ½ pound capellini or angel hair pasta

      1½ cups thinly sliced escarole or kale

      Freshly grated Parmesan, to garnish

      1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. In a second medium pot, bring stock to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Once stock is aromatic, after about 3 minutes, reduce heat to low. Working with 2 at a time, gently crack eggs into simmering broth and poach until whites set but yolks remain runny, 2-3 minutes per batch. Use a slotted spoon to transfer poached eggs to a plate and set aside.

      2. Meanwhile, blanch greens in salted boiling water until they soften but retain their bite, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer greens to a bowl and season with salt. Stir pasta into boiling water, making sure noodles don’t stick together.

      3. Once pasta is al dente, drain and distribute among 4 warm bowls. Add greens and ladle in broth. Garnish each bowl with a poached egg, black pepper and lots of freshly grated Parmesan.

    2. grayslady

      I’m more than twice your age, with no family and no cat, but I did the same thing. Being on a tight food budget, the price of turkey at Thanksgiving time is a great way to save money. Besides, I’ve always liked the traditional holiday meal; and, like you, I’ll have great leftovers.

  48. Thasiet

    Thanksgiving alone here too. My sister’s family is traveling, I think, so celebrating with our parents on Saturday instead. Spent the morning rooting my Fire tablet and delousing it of every last line of code Amazon ever wrote for it. Then learned a friend I flew hang gliders with died way too young of cancer yesterday. Now lying in bed with a mild cold, watching RT on my rooted Fire tablet and reading NC.

  49. WheresOurTeddy

    Having no extended family to speak of, the wife and I fed the birds, ate tostadas and watched reruns of an old show we like. It has been a great day so far. Hope everyone else’s day is enjoyable or at least tolerable.

  50. Tyronius

    I’m thankful for this website and all the love put into it by Yves, Lambert, Jeri-Lynn and crew. Being well informed is the richest of gifts!

    I’m shocked to be in such a large company of fellow commentarians who aren’t doing a traditional Thanksgiving. I was fed up with expectations this year and decided it was going to be just me and my dog.

    Home made green chili over a chicken breast quarter and a fine local brew was an entirely satisfying repast, I hope everyone’s dinner was so tasty!

    It’s nice to lounge about and read NC, before talking a nice winter night’s dip in the hot tub.


  51. IClaudiusYouNot

    Thanks and much love to Yves, Lambert, Jeri-Lynn for this wonderful resource.

    I cooked lasagna, which turned to be unexpectedly tasty!

    Being a 40-year old single man without children and living quite far from my family, I spent the thanksgiving evening alone, reflecting on the many nice things and privileges that I have and enjoy. Though my mood recently has been somewhat similar to the one experienced and described by Russell around 90 years ago in his essay “Christmas at Sea”.

  52. McWatt

    We are a big Thanksgiving family. Going back years and years to Thanksgiving at my Great-grandfathers house,
    to having it at my Grandfathers apartment, to having it at my parents house, to having it at our house, to it now moving to the house of my oldest son and his wife.

    I do remember one Thanksgiving where my brother and I were living in the Bay area and my family had not moved out yet, and he was a single man then. We were bacheloring it that day, it was a month after the big quake, we were emotionally drained. We thought we’d drive up to San Francisco and have a fabulous meal at a great place only to find everything closed. But not North Beach Pizza! We phoned our family back in Chicago from the restaurant while waiting for our food. Lot’s of tears later, the food arrived, and we wished our family Happy Thanksgiving and sat down to a ham and pineapple pizza. Grateful to at least be together.

  53. Gyan Brard

    When I was growing up, Thanksgiving always meant going to my mother’s aunt and uncle’s house in the Berkeley hills. He was an art professor at UC so his house was basically a museum with particualrly cool african pieces and some pre-columbian stuff with other items scattered around. We always ate late compared to how most people seem to do these days and my parents would not let us eat anything the entire day in preparation for the event. We had Fresca and tried not to fidget too much while the adults talked. My great uncle would make a big production of carving the turkey and an even bigger production of ladling us just a little gravy which he had slaved over.

    So when I was in school in St. Louis and could not get back to the Bay Area for thanksgiving one Fall, I was invited to another student’s house in Southern Illinois, near Carbondale. The setting was much more modest than what I had known for years but with more family, more young people, a lot of love, my first trip to a Wal-Mart which was the social center of town and was really quite lovely. A good memory to carry forever

  54. Kaleberg

    Thanksgiving is the harvest festival, so it’s about food, friends and family. We alternate with friends having a bunch of people over for a big turkey centered dinner. For a while we would join friends and travel, usually to NYC, sometimes to Santa Fe, but people have gotten older and frequent flier plans aren’t what they used to be.

    I don’t get the hate on Black Friday. It might be silly, but we live in a commercial civilization, so celebrating commerce as we do between Thanksgiving and Christmas makes sense. I find it festive.

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