The Upside of Being Single on Thanksgiving – The Best Relationship is One You Have with Yourself

Okay then, if you are reading this thinking I am singing always look on the sunny side of life, you are right.  And wrong.  



If your best friend is afflicted with a terminal illness I would not be advising you to look on the bright side.  I do believe and have experienced creating a memorable, happy Thanksgiving by planning ahead.



You can be sitting on the pity pot and thinking that everybody’s in a relationship but you.  That is an irrational thought since 44% of American over the age of 18 are currently single.  



Gather Together, Give to Others


If you have a group of friends, be the one to bring them together.  Do not sit and wait for someone to notice you are alone.  By all means, ask people what they are doing.  



The only thing you have to lose is your false pride.



Thanksgiving is such a great holiday.  The focus is gratitude for coming through the challenges that life has given you  -- like health issues, job hassles, losing relationships.   You can think about your friendships, talents, and all the ordinary extraordinary appreciations offered you this year.  We don’t always get what we want but we usually get what we need.



A caveat:  there are many people in this country who do not get what they need.  If you are reading this you are likely not one of them. How about spending part of the day providing for those less fortunate.  Find out what opportunities are available in your area.  



My life has been based on pushing my sadness and disappointment away by giving to others.  It really works. It’s not about gaining perspective on your troubles, although that can happen from extending your own generosity of time and resources.  



What it is about is filling your mind and heart up with the pleasure you get by giving.



This year my daughter, who is a busy middle-aged attorney, is hosting Thanksgiving for 30, and whoever else shows up. All of us have a desire to connect and celebrate our sense of family, and those in attendance besides immediate family had no place to go.  People will bring a dish and we will serve on beautiful paper plates.  The house is already decorated with pumpkins on tablecloths, napkins and balloons.  None of this is expensive yet it looks bright and cheery.  As we prepare, our festive feelings expand.  



If you think about it, in contrast to our rushed lives, guests have taken the effort to bring something special.  It is this cooperative effort that creates an expanding heart.



In our family once you are in, you are always in.  Past gatherings have included the three wives of my ex-husband who has now passed.  This year, as in the last 10 years, we toast to those who are no longer with us -- my brother, father of my daughter’s, son in law’s dad.   



As I review the guest list I see the names of people who attended our Thanksgiving many times.  We greet them with  true warmth in our heart. There are many single people who look forward to our event.  The gathering remains true to its message of the “more the merrier.” There are no strangers.



Back to Being Single


At another level, when you are single, you are totally free to do whatever you choose. Blessings are:


  • not adhering  to conventional ideas about how to spend the holiday

  • using your time to head off to a vacation  

  • indulging yourself in TV and eating Chinese food in bed

  • no arguing about whose family to spend the holiday with

  • flirting with other single people



The possibilities are only limited by how you think.  You can meet some interesting people at a potluck. As Grandpa would say “Robertala, you never know what’s around the corner.”



What about the luxury of having extra time off?  Create an adventure by spending it on self-care. Perhaps you can create a vision of what a terrific person you are and list the ways that not being in a relationship allows you time to solidify your foundation by listing your accomplishments the fabulous people who have chosen you as a confidant.  



I have noticed that when I am content with my life and confident in myself, the universe provides me with what I want. 



It does take some effort in list-making and visualization.Get some poster board and cut out pictures from magazines of what you want to draw into your life.  Paste them on the poster board along with a time line.  Think about what effort on your part will be needed to make this a reality, such as:


  • joining an online dating service

  • participating in a service organization 

  • taking a course in something outside of your usual interests



At times I have looked to negative examples of couples to gain perspective that there is no lifestyle that guarantees happiness.



Be thankful for who you are today instead of comparing yourself to others. 



Finally, look to your support group to provide an ear for craziness that you invent in your mind.  Set up a system where there is a morning call in or text list of folks also wanting support.  Instruct one another to be listeners and not advice givers. If you need advice, then ask for it after you have vented.



By all means give yourself permission to have a great holiday!


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© 2014 -2019 by Roberta Gallagher


Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Certified Relationship Coach

Social Work Board Certified Diplomate



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