Thanksgiving is a Holiday for Everyone

Dear Toni--

Thanksgiving is approaching. It seems that every year at this time I begin to feel a sense of dread as I think about this holiday. I come from a small family and other than an unmarried Aunt, I'm the only unmarried adult. It's expected that I will make the trip "home" and participate in all the family rituals. However, I always feel on the sidelines and different from everyone else. By the time it's over, I'm anxious to get back to my own home and relieved to have gotten through it.

What am I doing wrong? Do other single adults feel this way, and how do they handle it? Any suggestions would be appreciated. --Always Feeling Alone

Dear Always Feeling Alone--

There are many singles who report similar experiences. It seems that during the time leading up to turkey day, there are often mixed emotions. After all, it's nice to get together with loved ones and celebrate a tradition that has always been a part of your family life. There is also a hope that somehow this year will "be different" and that you will meet some of your basic needs through the sharing and connectedness.

Then the reality comes. It feels just the same as last year, maybe worse, because another year has gone by.

What you are probably doing "wrong" is not setting a careful and realistic plan that specifically addresses your needs. You are assuming that by having a positive attitude and showing up, things will be different (better). Not likely.

A good plan for Thanksgiving should address:

* The length of time you spend with family

* Setting realistic expectations for what you hope to experience

* Your need for time with other singles, doing things that will help you to feel connected to the singles community. This one involves making separate plans with solo friends; before, after and during Thanksgiving.

* Staying focused on the good things in your life and giving thanks for these.

Like most things in life, this Thanksgiving will be what you make of it. So begin NOW to plan a holiday that offers meaning, sharing, and happiness to you, a single adult.

(from November 2003)


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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