Thursday, November 26, 2015

For Those Who Had to Spend Thanksgiving Alone

I don't mean to sound cynical or negative, but I've recently come to the conclusion that the holidays are overrated. It would make a great topic for a more in-depth post, but for now, let me just say that as I've gotten older I've noticed that there's so much hype and expectation for Thanksgiving and Christmas to be perfect days. Everyone is expected to spend it with family and have a perfect meal, and an enjoyable day with no fights, disagreements, or petty remarks. 

And when you were a kid, didn't it seem -- thanks to recurring themes in movies and TV specials -- that the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was supposed to be a magical time? That anything was possible and in fact, we almost expected something miraculous to take place during this time of year. We've all heard of Christmas miracles. 

Except...there is no miracle. I hate to break it to you in case you weren't aware, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are just ordinary days like the other 363 on the calendar. Just because it's a holiday doesn't mean that people don't die on that day. And Santa Claus won't be coming down the chimney with a new job for daddy who's been out of work all year. 

I point it out not to be morose, but because I found the above quote earlier today and it serves as a reminder that all of us always have something to be grateful about. It also reminded me of people I know who had to spend this holiday alone or at least, without family members simply because they don't have any. For a lot of people, this time of year is anything but miraculous. It can be an especially lousy time if you've recently lost someone you were close to. 

One of those people is a lovely young woman named Allison who runs a music website I've written for from time to time. Earlier this year Allison was in my neck of the woods for a wedding and we met up in person for the first time. She was very close to her mother -- her only relative. She was an only child and her father had passed away when she was quite young. During the meal, she took a brief call from her mother and told me it was a daily ritual for them to speak to each other for a few minutes and wish each other goodnight. 

I'm connected to Allison on Facebook, and a few weeks ago I learned that her mother died quite unexpectedly. Allison had lived in New York for several years but relocated to L.A. during the summer. Her mother still lived in her home state, Ohio. 

I spent today's Thanksgiving with my own mother -- and only her. She had decided not to host my siblings and their children any longer at our house because it's just too much work and I don't blame her. Plus, she had triple bypass surgery over the summer so she has the best excuse not to make an enormous meal any more. 

I will admit that while I enjoyed the day, earlier my mind wandered to things I don't have...and how this was going to be yet another holiday season without those things. 

Then I thought of Allison. She'd been understandably staying away from Facebook the past few weeks, and I had no idea what her plans were, if any, for the day. Did she have a roommate who was staying around for the holiday weekend? Was she invited to have the meal with a friend?

I sent her an email today to let her know I was thinking of her. I remembered how tough it was when my father passed away in the month of November several years ago, and how our family had to face Thanksgiving and Christmas so soon after his death. And yet I had my mother and siblings, and we all got each other through it. Allison has no other family members to support her. 

I complain sometimes about my mother to my friends...but the quote above made me realize that I'm still thankful and lucky that she's still in my life. I'm grateful that she made it through her surgery with flying colors. 

It also made me think of other people I know that probably spent today on their own, or those that would consider their own lives far from being a fairy tale. 

If you were one of them -- well, it sounds like a cliche, but you're not alone. You're not the only one. And I still hope, no matter how difficult it may seem, that you still found some things to be grateful about. 


  1. Hey Pam, wow I remember your last personal blog (sorry I forgot the name) Really enjoy reading Go Retro but am looking forward to reading this this one (looks like I have some catching up to do)
    You may remember me by a mantra that I have used for most of my life during dark times " you are never alone when you are with yourself*

    1. Hi Anonymous - thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Gosh, the quote doesn't ring a bell. Are you by any chance Maria from the blog that was called "The Journey From Holeness to Wholeness" that I used to read?

    2. No, I'm Timothy from Toronto ( Ontario, Canada) I remember Sunny Side Up, I don't remember how I found the link. ( I am into positive visualization myself so perhaps through another blog?) Where I work may ring a bell:

    3. Hi Timothy - I do remember you! Sorry, it's been a few years now since I had that other site. Thanks so much for sticking around and continuing to visit Go Retro as well. Hope you've been well.


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