More prevalent than pumpkin pie this holiday season is the refrain, “Are you upset you can’t travel to see your family this year?”
And I abashedly repeat, “No.”
It’s not hard to stomach a Thanksgiving meal without my mother, father, brother and extended family since I haven’t spent a single holiday with them in the four-plus years that I’ve lived in Alaska. Instead, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with a cornucopia of friends, roommates and mere acquaintances over the years.
One November, I was visiting my family on the East Coast and realized that the most cost efficient way to get home was to fly into Anchorage at 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. That night, I fell asleep before my friends got to serving the pie, but long after my grandmother had served the yams back east.
Traveling from Alaska to my family in New Jersey is an arduous process. It involves many hours spent in a plane, several airports and a lot of stress.
My mother will be the first to tell you that a visit from Kathleen is already stressful, especially since it means she has to find space in her craft room for an air mattress. So, we’ve decided to avoid adding the inherent stress of the holidays to the tumult.
This year, though, people across the country are joining me in celebrating Thanksgiving far from their families. With coronavirus infection rates skyrocketing, chances are you would leave Thanksgiving dinner with more than a bag of leftovers.
So, here are some tips for making the most out of a solo Thanksgiving.
First, sleep in as late as you want. There’s no reason to get up and help clean or cook.
When you do finally wake up, get outside! Instead of my usual angst-filled walk to “blow off some steam” before spending the evening with every person I could possibly be related to, I now get to spend my holidays working up an appetite and connecting with nature.
But be sure to keep some traditions! No matter how much I celebrate the freedom of a family-less holiday, I always miss them extra this time of year. So, I put the usual songs on the radio and find myself cooking meals just like my dad would.
Try to set something up with your chosen family. Whether you have a friend or two in your social bubble or roommates, it’s always nice to have plans to celebrate.
And most importantly, call them! We’re all a little extra lonely, stressed and worried this holiday season, so don’t forget to tell your family that you love them and that you’ll see them soon.
But don’t be upset if they don’t answer — they may be taking my advice too!
By KAT SORENSEN
For the Clarion