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This is the first year in about 5 that my wife and I have done Thanksgiving just alone, the two of us.  We've always sort of glommed on to the greater holiday celbration at either my Mother's house or my Sister's...my wife has no family here.  Plus, she's not a lifelong American...She was born in Israel and only moved to America about 11 years ago, so Thanksgiving is not a big, let alone ingrained, thing for her.

This year is different.  My family's dynamics have been upended by a divorce between my sister and her husband,,and we are all coming to sorts with the aftermath.  As a result, everyone is fending for themselves this year, which is a bit sad but okay at the end of the day.

But, sticking close to home this year, what it has made me notice for the first time is this...

There are a lot of people in my neighborhood who either do Thanksgiving alone, or don't much do it at all.  I never knew.

There are a lot of people who "celebrate" Thanksgiving by themselves.  Some are elderly, some aren't.  Some are college students.  Or younger people who, for what ever reason, are on their own.  Maybe they choose to be...I can't say.  All I can say is what I observe.

My next door neighbor is a Vet, and his Mom moved in with him about a year ago after he and his girlrfriend split up.  She's about 6 years older than me, which is to say she's about 62 or 63.  She's a nice lady...but a little reticent.  She's worked her whole life in retail banking.  Had a couple of husbands...didn't work out.  This afternoon, after having spoken to her son, who is really my friend, and knowing that he was going elsewhere for Turkey Day and she was on her own...I knocked on the door.  My wife and I...well, really I, had cooked a smallish but still bountifull dinner, with pumpkin pies.  I wash concerned that she was just sitting over there alone, with nothing on the stove that spoke to the Holiday we all celebrate.  

She came to the door and we spoke for a bit, and she assured me she had just eaten, and had made a "single person Thanksgiving meal" the night before.  I wasn't sure whether I believed her or not, but what do you do?  But as I was about to turn away and return home she said something to me that made my day.  She told me that she gives thanks for having such good neighbors.  She said, as well, that she's lived in lot's of places, and this neighborhood feels as good and as comfortable as any she's ever lived in, and she thanked me for being so friendly and attentive.  She allowed that she is sort of a private person, herself, and hasn't reciprocated as much as she'd like in the past year.

And then she, quite unexpectedly, stepped forward and embraced me, and gave me a hug.  

On the other side of the property, there is another mixed family of elder lady whose hardluck son has come back home to roost.  She has, in the past 12 months, noticed a slip in her memory, and her doctor has told her she is likely sliding down the path of Alzheimers.  We speak, and are friendly, but it's not like we are big friends.  But I was watching her house today, as well, just to see what was going on.  Not much of anything, as much as I could tell.  Her son was working...he travels a lot as an independent contractor working for banks who have repossessed homes.  He was gone all day until about 4:00 PM.  His 20 something daughter also lives there, and I never saw any lights on in the kitchen all day long.  Maybe they went out to dinner.

There's another lady down the street...she is probably about 65, and a real spitfire, even though she has some health issues.  She has a daughter who lives not far away, and provides daily childcare services for her daughter and son in law.  I noticed her car was still in the driveway at about 4:00 PM as I was walking down to the corner for some cigs, so I stopped by and knocked on the door.  She watched 2 of the presidential debates with us, and is really a fun lady.  I was concerned she might, for some inexplicable reason, be on her own, and the dinner I had prepared was almost ready to plate up.

So I rapped on her door.  The TV was on, and from her side door, which is glass, I could see inside.  Clearly, she was home.  But nobody answered.  I hesitated, and then knocked again.  All of a sudden she rounds the corner from her hallway and is naked as a jaybird...just out of the shower.  She didn't know what to cover first, and darted back around the corner...only to come back a minute later fully clothed and amazingly composed.  I had to laugh, and told her it's too late to cover up now...I pretty much saw everything there is to see.  She laughed, and I invited her up to dinner if she had no plans, but as it turned out she was getting ready to go to her daughter's house.

About 15 minutes later she drove by my place, and I waved her to stop at the end of the driveway...I approached her car and she rolled the window down...and I said to her:  "I hope you take this the right way, but I feel uniquely qualified, at last, to say that you still have a great ass."  She laughed.

But, in all seriousness, this is the first Thanksgiving that I have spent here in my own neighborhood over the past 6 years...my wife and I have always gone elsewhere.  It's a working class neighborhood.  With a good mix of ages, from retired folks to college students and everything in between.  This year, just looking around,I have noticed more people than I would have expected who just sort of punch the clock on Thanksgiving and treat it like just another day...

There are many, many people out there who don't have either family or friends on a day like this.  And then there are those on the street.

I'm thinking of them right now.  I can't make it right for the world, but I'm taking a pumpkin pie next door right now to Darlene.  As for Gail...the neighbor with the great ass?  If the pie's all gone by tonight, I may have to make some banana bread just so I have an excuse to knock on her door tomorrow.

Originally posted to Keith930 on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:09 PM PST.

Also republished by Personal Storytellers.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Really alone on Thanksgiving is fine (13+ / 0-)

    What is not so fine is to be partly alone.

    I had a Thanksgiving completely by myself -- the college town deserted, and I walked through the woods in a moody mood. It was fine.

    All the others, though, have been depressing, as an adult, because I'm the one who failed to be rich, failed to be married, failed to have children, and who couldn't talk about golf, interest rates, mortgages, and the best scheme for really getting rich.

    I'm waiting for a day or two before unleashing my own diary on the melancholy of such holiday spirits - - how "Dream Song 385" and Manley Hopkins's terrible sonnet come to mind, "Birds build, but not build I/ Time's eunuch." (This is why I should stay away from pens, microphones, crayons, and audiences on holidays.)

    Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

    by The Geogre on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:42:48 PM PST

  •  This was my first Thanksgiving alone, but I (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas, Aunt Pat, Youffraita, madhaus

    did just fine.

    I'm a lot more worried about Christmas. Dunno why.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:57:07 PM PST

    •  Thanksgiving is a meal...a traditional meal (5+ / 0-)

      but still it is more about the dinner table.  Xmas has a lot more tradition and family baggage and Norman Rockwell expectations associated with it.

      I have only done about three sole Xmas's in my life. You can keep a stiff upper lip and trudge through it, but it feels pretty alone.  It is not a good experience.  It's not tragic, but it does feel pretty fucking solitary.  Stock up on Brandy.

      Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:06:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My first one alone as well (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimene, Spirit of Life, liz dexic

      The kids went with their dad to have dinner with him at his mom's, their grandma.

      I tried roasting a turkey for the first time in my entire life (I am in my 50s).  I never did before because I was always at someone else's house, and then I've been with someone for 20 years who is a vegetarian.  I tackled a small turkey because I figured it was time to prove that I could.

      Heh.  I've got a lot to learn.  The probe might have said the turkey was cooked to 185 internally, but it wasn't ready.  I cut it up, put the smaller pieces in a roasting pan, covered it with foil, and cooked it another 45 minutes.  It came out fine that way.

      Thanks for your diary.  It didn't even occur to me to walk around the neighborhood to see who else was on their own.  I appreciate your giving me some ideas for dealing with it next year.

  •  You seem to be a really nice person (5+ / 0-)

    and I am grateful that there are people like you in this world but really, a lot of people prefer to be alone.  I am one of them.  And I don't even like when neighbors fix me a plate and bring it over.  I am very grateful but it goes straight to the trash.  (Reason:  I do not like too see too many kinds of food in one plate, makes me feel icky. Now, a nice slice of pie, that's another thing altogether.)

    The thing is, if you saw me on the street and greeted me you would think I was the spitfire lady and would believe that I spend my holidays alone because I have no other choice.

    The truth is that there are only two persons in this world that I like enough to spend more than half an hour with and those are my two sons.  They have other family responsibilities so we celebrate holidays the day before or after the actual holiday.  And on the years we cannot do that I really bake a whole turkey for myself and the cat.  With all the trimmings.

    Today I had the perfect day.  My birthday was a week ago and I got beaucoup bucks for Kindle books. So I gorged on books and the cat gorged on leftover turkey.

  •  Ah ... the neighbor with the long grass ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas, Aunt Pat

    ... and now the neighbor with the great ass!

    No one has ever made me a pie.

    :)

    •  it's always something... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      high uintas, Aunt Pat

      Does that diary still stick in your craw?

      I'm sure someone will make you a pie one of these days.  Have you ever made a pie for someone else?

      Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:38:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No no! I remember you took a bit of grief ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat

        ... over that diary, but i didn't find it personally objectionable.  No craw sticking here ... :)

        As for pies, i have to admit, i haven't thrown a pie together in eons.  I could never settle on a consistently reliable crust recipe, so now i make crisps and tarts.  Hubby finds them just as satisfying as pie (or so he tells me!).

      •  Meh (0+ / 0-)

        I always hate it when people ask me the equivalent of if I've ever "made a pie" or why I don't volunteer at a shelter or something on Thanksgiving.

        It sounds noble but frankly I could use some stuff coming back to me instead of having to give more.

        I don't have a lot coming my way.  It's been many, many years that I've spent virtually every holiday alone.  It's been many many years that I've eaten dinner alone virtually every night.  I see movies alone.  I go stir crazy alone.

        It makes it that much harder to find a way to give to others.

        I do what I can.

        But there is no neighbor who gives a shit, and even my family seems irritated that I've finally asked to be included.

        It's really, really difficult, and the whole "bake someone else a pie" bromide is not helpful.

        Maybe for someone else, but not for me.

        Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama

        by delphine on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 08:45:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fantastic Diary. (6+ / 0-)

    My favorite of the day.


    A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

    by Pluto on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:50:21 PM PST

  •  Thanks Keith... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madhaus

    This time of year is so geared for family or friend get togethers.  But I live a solitary life and it can be quite depressing to be so obviously left out.

    A friend and I used to go see movies on Thanksgiving, but she moved to another state a few years ago and now it's just another day.

    "I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."~ Christopher Reeve~

    by Texnance on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 09:34:19 PM PST

  •  Nick Virgilio did a Haiku about this (0+ / 0-)

    Thanksgiving alone
    ordering eggs and toast
    in an undertone

    good friend of my parents and he's practically a legend at our church now. R.I.P, Nick.

    "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

    by TheHalfrican on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 05:34:49 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the dairy. Rec'd for having the (0+ / 0-)

    "stones" to tell her she still has a nice ass. :-)

    "I'm totally pro-choice in the matter of abortion. But of course I'm also so radically pro-life that I think every person from birth onward must have full and affordable access to healthcare." - Gail Collins

    by gritsngumbo on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 07:40:23 AM PST

  •  I lived on a military base for 11 out of the 25 (0+ / 0-)

    years of my marriage, and we always invited the young single  people (ages 20-15) to our home for Xmas and Thanksgiving dinner.  If we hadn't they'd have been stuck eating at the chow hall which stinks.  

    The one year my husband was deployed at Thanksgiving, my parents came over to Jacksonville  and stayed the night at a hotel (don't ask' I had room) and took me to dinner. Then I picked up a friend at the airport and the next day we drove down from Jax to Orlando and did Epcot and St. Augustine before she flew home. I learned to ALWYS keep busy during a deployment--to make plans with friends and organize my time.  Funny,when I'd been single and lived alone, I hadn't felt that need, but when you're used to sharing your  life and home with someone, being along seems much more alone.

    One Thanksgiving, our neighbor had to work, and his Japanese wife and their kids hadn't planned a meal since he'd been supposed to be home in time.  We grabbed her and the two kids and another  guy whose wife was home being treated for cancer.  This was the only year we hadn't rounded up the kids (it was our last year in Japan and my husband wasn't thrilled with that group of young guys he supervised) and had planned it to be just us.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 01:29:30 PM PST

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