From Sojourners, sojo.net…
Thanksgiving Alone is Not Lonely
It had been a busy semester and the Tuesday before Thanksgiving I arrived back home from an exhausting American Academy of Religion meeting. I picked up my dog, and I decided on my plan for Thanksgiving. Walk the dog early and spend the rest of the day with Turner Classic Movies. I was mind, soul, bone weary.
Wednesday, I tried to catch up on reading newspapers and magazines. It was an hour or so before the grocery stores would close when I found myself in the store shopping for the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal. My it-is- time-to-cook-Thanksgiving–dinner switch had switched onto automatic pilot. There I was, searching in vain for a fresh turkey. No such luck. So I found a nice 12 lb. frozen turkey.
Thanksgiving Day, I stuck to my plan. I walked the dog early and had pumpkin pie for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. However, it was early afternoon and the turkey was still too hard to handle. I talked with my children. They were having a good time with their dad and his wife. When my mom called, I told her about my problem. Against a background of happy family noise from my aunt’s house, she told me to put the turkey in a sink full of cold water and it would thaw faster. It was nearly 6pm when I put my turkey stuffed with cornbread dressing into the oven. Around midnight my dog and I shared a meal of turkey, dressing, collard greens, cranberry sauce and rolls.
When I sat down to eat my late, late Thanksgiving supper, I gave thanks for my children who were healthy and well and sharing the day with family and friends. I gave thanks for my parents who were also well and happy. I gave thanks for rest and for solitude.
Thanksgiving is day for happy sharing, for hospitality, and for visiting. However, there are some people who either by circumstance or by choice spend the holiday alone. And that is good too. There is often pressure to think that we must be somewhere with a group of people celebrating the holiday, and that if we are not, there is something wrong. There is nothing wrong when rest and solitude are what a person chooses.
There is much to do if one does not want to be alone. There are many churches and organizations that serve Thanksgiving meals to the homeless or to anyone who comes through the door. They always need volunteers to help with this effort. Some churches deliver meals to elders and to the sick and shut-in. Hospitals can use volunteers during the holidays. But if you choose to be alone, that is a valid choice.
God in God’s three dimensions — Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer — is always with us. The radical love of God is a companion. This companionship is a joy without equal. So, even when we are alone on a holiday, alone is not lonely.
Dr. Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at JustPeaceTheory.com. She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.