Before I defend skipping Thanksgiving, I should say that I really love the holidays. Even the parts that have been up for debate, like Love Actually and pumpkin spice; I even welcome Melania Trump’s haunted Christmas decorations. And when I started spending Thanksgiving alone it was out of necessity, not choice, and at first I felt very sad about it.
But after my first solo Thanksgiving, which I spent revisiting my painting hobby and shaving my entire body, I realized that I was mostly sad because of the stigma that comes with being by yourself during the holidays. Part of this is because popular culture teaches us that spending a holiday alone is a calamitous, painful life event. The lonely holiday is the premise for entire films or plot turns: take the lonely women on their respective solo vacations in The Holiday; the chaos of every single Home Alone movie; those scenes of Zooey Deschanel slurping ramen alone on Christmas in Elf.
It’s no wonder people react with horror, concern, pity, and variations of those things when you tell them you’re alone for Thanksgiving. Often you — the orphan, the recently single, the grief-stricken (while none of these things) — are then invited to a Friendsgiving in another borough, or in a worst-case scenario to another family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Neither of these things sound very appealing, but it’s better than being alone on a holiday, right?
It’s not though. I have no gripes with people’s generosity, and I really don’t mean to be a downer on people who love Thanksgiving, but it is the ideal holiday to spend gathering yourself before the whirlwind of boozy social events that come right before being shoved into an entirely new year.
Part of your hesitation may be internal; a sense of restlessness that makes the prospect of a holiday alone downright terrifying. As Ephrat Livni wrote of the staycation, time spent alone can be scary: “After all, one reason we keep busy is to avoid ourselves, the secret fear that without our work or rigid schedules we are nothing, empty vessels, floating adrift on an ocean of nothingness.” I was afraid of that nothingness. Would I, too, lose touch with reality?
But I didn’t, and you won’t either. What I was was unbothered: by my co-workers and friends, unburdened by dinner conversations about Joe Biden. Come Thanksgiving Day, instead of a Nabisco-flavored meal, I ordered expensive takeout and got really good at making hot toddies. Because, and this really goes without saying, turkey is bad and no amount of Sutter Home can make a marshmallow-based appetizer taste good.
The point is to luxuriate in your free time, a precious commodity, rather than rushing about because you’re socially mandated to be with people on a holiday. Take this time for yourself: sleep, read, quit caffeine, or start yoga. Do whatever you want. I have a feeling that once you give it a go, you’ll want to skip Thanksgiving for the rest of your life.