We have not lived near extended family for the last 8 years. Daniel and I both took jobs as air traffic controllers at Albuquerque center in 2012, and have been away from family since then. As you know, air travel is a 24/7 kind of thing, so we don’t just get holidays off either! We have been lucky enough to be able to take them off a few of those years or our regular days off fell on a holiday here and there. But we have had our fair share of either Christmas or Thanksgiving (or the other holidays of the year for that matter) being celebrated as just us. This is one of those years where it will be just us for Thanksgiving.
At a time of year where togetherness and family gatherings are the themes, this can be a little hard. With 2020 forcing a lot of cancelled gatherings, I thought I would share some things that can help with the feelings of missing out and missing family.
Gratitude. No matter what the holiday is, always come back to gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for. Your kids, your health, being able to have food. The beauty of snow if it’s cold, the beauty of the fall leaves if you have those, the beauty of warmth and getting outside if the weather is nice. Ground yourself with gratitude.
Make it special. Whether you are having 20 people over or you just have your immediate family, you can make the holidays special. Cook a special meal, take the day off from chores or work. Dress up fancy or stay in pjs all day. Change your routine in some way for the holiday.
Decorate! Bring on the cheer and the sparkle and the beauty. Create a table scape for your Thanksgiving dinner even if it’s just you and your partner and kids. Let the kids help with creating decorations. It will feel special still even if it’s small.
Relax and enjoy the down time. The holidays can be stressful with all of the cleaning and cooking and decorating. If this stuff stresses you out, then use this smaller than normal holiday as an excuse to just relax. Take it back to gratitude and be grateful for less cleaning.
Be open to celebrating on another day. We have celebrated Christmas or Thanksgiving on a different day in the past when that’s when schedules allowed. Isn’t the time more important than the day on the calendar anyway?
Utilize technology. Use face time or zoom to still see relatives on the holidays. It’s definitely not ideal, but if it’s what you have, then use it!
Stay off social media! I know I just said use technology, but leave social media behind for the day. You’ve probably heard the phrase comparison is the thief of joy, right? Well, don’t go looking for how others are celebrating. If you know seeing someone else having a big holiday gathering will make you upset, then don’t see it. Your celebration is perfect for you. Cling to that.
You can’t always control schedules or holiday plans. Sometimes travel doesn’t work. Maybe you can’t get time off work, maybe your budget doesn’t allow for it. Maybe this year you have family that is immune compromised and can’t risk gatherings or travel. But you can control how you handle what you DO have. Focus on this. What do you have vs what do you not have?
You have one life. Celebrate it. Whatever you do, don’t sit around and mope about it. Especially if you have kids. Make the day special for them in some way and I guarantee it will make it special for you too!
My Thanksgiving Holiday Recipes
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