Thanksgiving Without Turkey

Close up of person holding out fall leaves

With the official launch of our Website, there is so much to share with you about single parenting at Thanksgiving. 

Close up of picnic basket, apples and blueberries on top of picnic table

Part of me wants to share the wonderful things that come from the experience because they are uplifting and positive. Another part of me says, tell about the difficult stuff and that tends to be sad at times. And yes, of course, there is the funny stuff too.    

Above all, there are the really BIG questions…

First Question – What defines a single parent?

Second Question – What does it feel like to be a single parent?

Third Question – What do our readers want to hear about?

I came to realize the stories and answers will slowly reveal themselves over time, in no particular order. 

How do we tell a story?

Basket filled with colorful tapestries

Most importantly, though, to tell part of the story and not all of it will not provide a true representation of being a single parent. There are uplifting and positive moments that come with extremely difficult and sorrowful ones.  

A season that was different

For now, autumn is the time of year when I became a single parent. I don’t remember too much about the first year of raising children by myself. The year is somewhat of a blur.  

Or, as I like to describe how my life felt: 
 autumn leaves that typically fall delicately from trees, in my case, were flying off trees haphazardly and spinning like a cyclone.  

That story, though, can wait for a future post. 

Close up of small holiday package with lit candle

Today, I decided to focus on something more lighthearted with the holidays being around the corner.

Traditions for Single Parents

Thanksgiving and other traditions take on a new meaning for single parents. This adjustment was one of the most challenging things for me. First, I will tell you what I learned from all this before I dive into it. Traditions can change and they still can be good. In other words, being witness to a holiday in a fashion that is remotely different from what we are accustomed to is okay.  

Do something out of the ordinary

Honestly, the most memorable holidays were the ones I spent doing something out of the ordinary. One particular Thanksgiving that comes to mind was one in which my small children and I would not be together. As usual, when this arrangement rolled around, I would always receive offerings from friends to spend the holiday with their families. Although I appreciated the offers, it actually was harder being around other families without my young children and I being together. For me, I needed to find a way that I could get through the holiday differently so that it did not remind me of this reality. You do what you have to do for self-care.  

Fall collection with basket of leaves, tan colored boots, orange pumpkins and tray of pastries

This particular Thanksgiving, I declined many offers. Instead, I chose to volunteer for a local organization that provided free, home-delivered Thanksgiving meals to community families who were in need. I signed up to a deliver one full meal to a specific family.  

Bed with white and cream colored blankets with cup and saucer

Now mind you, as a single parent, I was always exhausted and given any rare opportunity to be alone I typically elected for self-care (relaxation or sleep). But, taking into account the holiday, I felt I needed to at least celebrate it in some way. 

You ask, “What happened?”

The day came and I felt a little strange that I had not made my traditional pumpkin pie, nor was I popping a turkey in the oven. Instead, I was putting on my best clothes to deliver a turkey dinner to my adopted family. Soon, I set out on my day adventure and arrived at the turkey meal production site.  

Close up of old turquoise and red colored car

The parking lot was empty and there was no one around. I thought it was odd.  Where were all of the volunteers? I made my way into the building, and an older gentleman came out of the kitchen with a dish rag, drying his hands.  

He asked, “How can I help you?”  

I replied, “I am here to deliver a turkey dinner for my adopted family.”  

He then said, as I could slowly feel my imaginary balloon deflate, “Oh, yes, we were ahead of schedule and we had someone else deliver your meal to your adopted family.”  

At that point, all of the air was completely out of my balloon and I said, “You did WHAT???”

Close up brown basket with napkin

Long story short, I went on to ask if I could deliver another family’s meal, perform cleanup, wash the dishes, or simply JUST LET ME HELP!  

I was then told I could help them by signing up for next year!  

Next year wasn’t an option for me, what about today’s Thanksgiving? 

This is what I signed up to do for the holiday.

Close up of person holding out fall leaves

A different kind of Thanksgiving

Needless to say, it was an unusual Thanksgiving that year. I came home and called an out-of-state girlfriend who told me to just relax and watch a movie or two. Thank goodness for girlfriends.  

In the end, I had a solitary time to reflect on how traditions can be different and we can still survive. I learned a lot about myself that Thanksgiving. First, I learned about compromising and sharing my children. Second, I learned about spending time alone which inspired me to tap into who I was and find out what I was made of.  

Learn more, Feeding America

All in all, it takes resilience to be a single parent. What that means is to be adaptable to the changing tides. To be able to bounce back quickly after setbacks. Why? Because we need our power and strength to care for our children.

In closing, may you enjoy your Thanksgiving, whether it is traditional or non-traditional. Likewise, it can be out of the ordinary and even extraordinary. In the end, it really is just another day.

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