So this is my first year that I probably won't be spending Thanksgiving with family because I'm stationed across the country from my family, and doubt that I will be able to make the trip to LA to visit with my cousin's aunt and uncle who are basically another aunt/uncle to me. I'm very close with my parents and aunts/uncles, and just thinking about it already makes me a little sad.
Just looking for some advice as to not completely throw a huge pity party and be super sad that I won't be with family. I already bought a movie that we all traditionally watch on Thanksgiving Day, but other than that I have no plans. I live on post, so I have a few friends around but for the most part they already have people to see.
Worry, doubt, fear and despair are the enemies which slowly bring us down to the ground and turn us to dust before we die.
I was posted for 2 years to the US, and now posted half the country away from my family. 4 years half-the-country-away in the other direction prior to the US, LOL. I see them on Xmas when I'm not deployed, but generally not on any of the other holidays.
I actually had a brief tasking-related visit with my folks just last week. Missed (Canuck) Thanksgiving by only a week!
You make friends, and either get yourself invited to their place or if you're all in the same situation, get a potluck together. Or go out somewhere, have fun. Don't sit alone at home over a movie that'll just make you miss them more.
Yeah....get out and do something. I had one of the most memorable Christmasses of my life last year in Botswana. I was with my best friend & a great group of people, which made it easier. Christmas Eve we woke up at our campsite in the Okavango Delta. My best friend and tent mate informed first thing in the morning of the 24th dec me she had heard a hippo right behind our tent the night before. Gee thanks, lol. On the 25th we spent all day driving (10 hours on African roads!), but boxing day was one of the best days of the entire trip!
On a less light hearted note, I've spent the past 4 Thanksgivings away from my family (even though we are not technically American we have celebrated it since moving to America thanks to my American aunt who often comes to visit from Cali w/ my uncle, who emigrated around the same time we did). It was hard to be away from them, but like Coanteen said surround yourself with friends. I also had a skype webcam date with the fam, which helped. I've actually also had some very memorable Thanksgivings, mostly celebrating "Christmas" with the hiking club, but I wont bore you guys with those stories!
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We have orphan Thanksgiving every year. Started in grad school when we were all transplants, now it is for anyonethat anyone knows, no matter how tangentially, who has no fam in town. It is a big buffet feast, casual, and napping on the floor during post meal movie is encouraged.
It is super fun & other people who are dreading spending time with their families are always jealous of our dinner party.
Also, my cats get a lot of attention, so everyone's happy.
any 'orphans' in MN/Western WI are invited, btw.
So, what I am saying is that maybe you can start your own tradition to celebrate.
Orphan holidays are the best and I highly encourage them! Start planning now and with a month of spreading the word, I'm sure you can get a group together. You supply the main course and anyone who comes brings a side or dessert or drinks, etc. Non-traditional meals are fine too. Tell everyone about it and encourage your friends to let their friends know. You'll probably be surprised at how many "orphans" there are for holidays.
If all else fails, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving last year and I spent it by myself. My family was a 7 hour drive away and I had several offers from friends, but I still would have spent most of the day driving (2+ hours each way). So the day before I got a really nice take-out pizza that went straight in the fridge. Thanksgiving morning I make blueberry pancakes, then sat around and watched football. Later I heated up my pizza and drank some really nice rootbeer (I don't like real beer). I watched a movie then heated up and enjoyed some pumpkin pie. It was wonderful, relaxing, and non-dramatic. But I love a quiet day at home so...
I would do it again in a heartbeat, but with one change: I would have volunteered a couple hours somewhere doing thanksgiving for the homeless/disadvantaged. I didn't think about it until too late in the day, but I think that would have made my non-traditional Thanksgiving feel that much better.
Well, if I am wrong please disregard. But it used to be if you were in the military and stationed away from family. Other with family (usually spouses and kids) would sign up to offer a "home" for ship,barrick bound solder saillor to their homes fr the holidays. The families would open their homes t as many as they would feel comfortable to and the soldier sailor would go to the homes and celebrate thankgiving, xmas, and new years(or hanakkah if Jewish).
I did this for several and became very good friends with the "guys" to where they would cme and crash on what ever space I had in my house when dh was out to sea to make sure nothing hapened to me. They became mt "body guards" ad made sure I made it to my dr apts when I was preg with #1 ds, went to the store fr me when I was the size of a boat etc.
you may want t check out with the chaplin ( I think that is the person who collected the names) to see if it still done.
This year will actually be the first time in five years we will get to spend the holidays with family, so I know where you are coming from. DH is wrapping up his residency and fellowship in NC, and my family is in Dallas, and his in OKC. Between obscene call schedules and rotating holiday shifts, we just haven't been able to justify the cost of flying home for just a day, and not even on the actual holiday itself.
While it totally sucks to not have the family or even DH on a holiday, I found there were lots of other wives within the residency programs that were in the same boat, since they too were from all reaches of the country. A couple times at holidays we just got the girls together to do a potluck dinner for Christmas or Thanksgiving.
I also had friends who were from neighboring states whose families would come to them, and I'd be invited to join their family for the day. Two Christmases ago was one of the most memorable... finally got to meet friend's crazy MIL who I had heard many stories about....and then it SNOWED! My first white Christmas! I was able to take leftovers from the wonderful dinner up to the hospital for DH, which was totally appreciated. No matter how much it sucks for me to be without him at holidays, at least I'm not the one stuck at work!
At any rate, I second (third?) the suggestion of finding other "orphans" and spending the holiday with another kind of family...made some of my favorite holiday memories with those people!
If you can't find other orphans to spend the day with, I do hope you'll consider the advice given on getting out and volunteering somewhere. Rescue missions, homeless shelters, soup kitchens...they all love volunteers who will help wash dishes, serve food, or just sit with folks and chat while they eat what may be their only warm meal of the day. Nothing takes the pity party out of me faster than helping other people.
I know it's hard. I spent every holiday with my family until I moved to Honduras after I graduated from college. The first Thanksgiving away was nice...a bunch of other gringoes got together and made it as "United States" as possible! Christmas was even harder, but I had made Honduran friends by then and I spent it at their homes (burning tires late into the night in the front yard...a tradition there...kind of a smoky version of a bonfire and kumbaya ).
Hang in there. You may even enjoy it! Once I returned to the States and was in grad school, I intentionally stayed by myself over a couple of holidays. On one, I went to a monastery and was REALLY by myself (I needed it at that point...not saying that that's something you should do!).
If you're in western PA nmy family would be GLAD to have you!! Our thanksgivings have gotten huge someyears because my aunt and uncle invite anyone missing their own family, my Aunt is a total turkey pro too
Unfortuinetly I won't be there myself, I lost my job and an extra $150 in gas is too much for me No matter how awesome my BF's family is it's just not the same but they do help... I like the idea of throwing your own party and having others bring food too that's what I did the first year that I moved and it kept me from being a big baby all day and it was actually pretty cool
Thank you all for the responses. I do plan on checking to see if there are any volunteer opportunities. though I know that the usual Food Bank I volunteer at is not open that day and is having a separate Thanksgiving Food handout.
@Stushica-I wish I was in Western PA-all my family is in Central PA, but alas, I'm in Cali this year.
I agree with others that you should NOT do the usual traditions alone, it just makes you sad! I had my first Christmas away from home two years ago when I was in India doing research, it was hard because they obviously don't celebrate Christmas there so I couldn't even get into the "Holiday Spirit". I found it easier to just have a completely non-traditional day with friends, it totally distracted me from missing home, but of course I skyped with my family while they opened presents and did they're usual thing (time changes are handy!). It didn't help I was sick with Jaundice at the time so couldn't eat most of the food that my friends prepared!
As for Thanksgivings, I've spent the last 4 away from my family but since I'm always out of the US I often forget it's even going on! I do find it hard seeing all their facebook updates and pictures though...almost makes me want to give up this life of travel and move home (almost...).
It's going to be hard, but as long as you just stay open minded and just embrace it as a "fun day" rather then a family holiday, it makes it easier! It's easier said then done to accept that none of it will be the same...but if you can do it, it makes a world of difference!
Don't forget the power of Skype!! When DH was deployed, we 'ate' together when he was able to get camera time. It was a MRE at 2am, but I didn't care. I still got Thanksgiving 'with' him. Maybe you can join in the family dinner that way?
As for the rest of the day, I totally agree with volunteering your time!
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Even though I don't on holidays, I DO volunteer at a pantry one day a week and the week of holidays is always special.
Trading recipes with clients or just seeing that they get a decent holiday meal - with some extras - makes the holiday seem more special to me.
I do try to give myself a special meal on holidays off since the only family I have left is on the West coast and I can't afford the trip this year.
Usually I try to find turkey thighs (I like dark meat) and make myself a mini-meal.
But Wonders12 speshul breffy & pizza idea is sounding pretty good to me right now....
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Go figure :P and I have to second the skype! My aunt still does hollidays with her kids even though their in Thiland, China, and Mexico It's pretty funny seeing their pictures in pictures of them all "hanging out"
I work in healthcare, which is a field that always requires SOMEBODY to be there. So, I'll be working a 12 hour shift in the intensive care unit this Thanksgiving. In exchange, I get 6 days off at Christmas, so it's worth it. We all take our turn. I'm planning on bringing Thanksgiving to the hospital for myself and the rest the skeleton crew holding down the fort while everyone else chows down on turkey. Maybe we can't do the whole meal, but I make a mean pumpkin pie....
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Since there are probably other people in your situation, how about inviting everybody for a big pot luck dinner? We always did that at the racetrack since almost everybody was away from their families. Or just do something special for yourself, buy all your favorite foods and indulge in some that you wouldn't otherwise buy. Since you are in Cali, spend a relaxing day at the beach. I did that my first Xmas alone when I was in Florida and it was a great way to spend the day.
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I agree with the advice to volunteer or otherwise get yourself out and about.
But, also, set some time aside for your own 'tradition' (even if this is the first or only year). Get or make a couple of special foods you like to eat, have a movie or book you've been looking forward to enjoying, and pamper yourself a bit. It won't stop the homesickness, but holidays alone are a lot more pleasant if you make them include a little hardcore 'me' time.
Thank you for all the responses...it really means a lot. I'm here in Monterey, CA. The one fortunate thing is since we're in school technically, we have a two week break for the Christmas Holidays, and I'll get to have Thanksrismas then :-)
I plan on finding something giving back wise to do..and rumor has it they serve us a darn fine meal, so maybe I'll make a pie for myself and share with the girls who are here too.