How to Celebrate Thanksgiving When Your Nest is Empty

Kate is a Baby Boomer consumer specialist for Kinoli Inc. She has written about senior issues for 11 years as a Cooperative Extension specialist and for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. She has been featured in USA Today, Detroit News, New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Yorker magazine, “ABC World News,” NBC’s “TODAY” show and many other media outlets.

 Have your children all flown the coop with nary a look backwards? For some, Thanksgiving is pretty lonely when your own flesh and blood can’t make it home for even a brief visit. On the other hand, you might delight in your freedom from turkey tyranny. Either way, if you’re a Baby Boomers lacking nestlings for the first time, you’ll likely need to adjust holiday plans to better suit your new lifestyle.

After experiencing Thanksgiving without family several years, I came up with several ways to celebrate the holiday without feeling abandoned. Read on for six new Turkey Day traditions that might suit your needs. And Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Host an Orphan’s Dinner
It really helps to remember you’re not alone in this boat. There are plenty of people who’d greatly appreciate an invitation to socialize while enjoying a touch of turkey. I threw such a party last year and asked everyone to bring a dish to pass. The only thing I had to buy and prepare was the turkey, which made it even easier than being a parental unit in this scenario.

2. Retire to a Restaurant
Celebrate kicking the turkey habit by dining out at one of the many eateries that do all the work for you. You’ll enjoy the football games much more if you don’t have to leap up every 15 minutes to baste a bird. And, you can take advantage of cheap gift cards at such sites as GiftCardGranny to reduce your bill up to 30 percent.

3. Shop!
Black Friday has lately seceeded space to Grey Thursday. According to an article on FOXBusiness.com, more stores are offering doorbuster sales on Thanksgiving, so you could get some shopping done without facing the mass stampede to follow. Or you might hit the Internet and do some early cyber shopping. You can run price comparisons with a few mouse clicks and have gifts delivered directly to those ungrateful wretches to whom you gave life.

4. Spend the Day at a Shelter
One of my favorite Thanksgiving activities is cooking dinner at our local homeless shelter. Actually, I don’t cook the turkey dinner itself, as there are plenty of people willing to do that. Instead, I use the leftovers to create future meals for the shelter. It just seems a huge waste to throw away all those bird bones when the makings for broth and casseroles are readily available. Visit HomelessShelterDirectory.org for a list of volunteer opportunities.

5. Brighten Someone Else’s Day
The homeless aren’t the only ones who could use your volunteer services. Many nursing homes and hospitals would greatly appreciate a visitor who will bring some friendship into what they may otherwise find a very lonely day. It’s a win/win situation and you just might make some new friends. Check out this excellent blog post for some do’s and don’ts when visiting hospitals and nursing homes during the holidays.

6. Get Out of Town
A childless couple I know make a point of leaving home for the holidays; usually preferring to spend the long weekend scuba diving. While part of the reason they skip town is to avoid miserable family gatherings, they also miss bad weather and crowds of shoppers. Not all of us can afford a sunny beach vacation, but you might team up with another singleton or couple and rent a cabin, or simply go for a long drive.

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