Thanksgiving means many things to many people. For most of us, it is a time to gather with loved ones and express thanks and appreciation. It is also an opportunity to put the brakes on business and take stock of your life.

For others, though, it amplifies unhappiness and loneliness and increases anxiety and pressure to fill the time to not feel so alone. It is the first of a holiday trilogy that brings many people down to their knees who need “tools” to manage this time of year.

Personally, Thanksgiving has always been “my holiday.” I was married on Thanksgiving weekend, and each year since we spent it with my family. It was “our” holiday. Because it was the only time of the year that we could count on being together, we also celebrated Chanukah at the same time. We called it “Thanks-Hanukkah.”

This is the first year I have with both parents passed. My dad died two years ago and my mother two months ago. I have flown between the east and west coasts several times the past months and have decided to stay in Aspen for Thanksgiving; my partner and I will spend it with friends. Although it will be the first of sixty-five Thanksgivings I won’t be with my family, I feel blessed to be with friends and loved ones. I will miss my family and especially my parents. This is the end of an era for me and I am still working through these feelings.  Every year one of the things I was most grateful for was that I had my parents who were way in to their 90’s. This year it is different and I need to wrap my head around how lucky I was to have them for as long as I did and to find a new way to celebrate them at thanksgiving.

I am grateful for my children, grandchildren, and two sisters. My sisters and I zoomed with my mom every Sunday since my dad died and have continued the tradition. It feels so supportive.

I know how lucky I am, and I know, as I said earlier, not everyone is as lucky. I have compiled a list of things you can do to help survive the holidays. Take what resonates and let the rest go.

  1. Think moderation.
  2. Keep a regular exercise routine.
  3. Surround yourself, as best you can, with happy people.
  4. Be realistic—don’t expect the perfect holiday.
  5. Discard needing to be right from conversations.
  6. Stay connected to people; don’t assume everyone is too busy to talk.
  7. Toss guilt out the window.
  8. Say no to anything not a definite yes.
  9. Let go of old rituals and be ok with starting new ones.
  10. It is a wonderful way to lose yourself and help others.
  11. Don’t abandon healthy habits.
  12. Plan ahead to avoid last minute scrambling.
  13. Have a gift budget and stick to it.
  14. Take a breather; spend fifteen minutes alone as needed.
  15. If you don’t have a plan, call around till you find one. People are welcoming if they know you will be alone.
  16. Don’t wallow and don’t make yourself a victim.
  17. Get out in nature.
  18. Set aside differences.
  19. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers and set up some structures to avoid them.
  20. Make a list of everything you are grateful for. Read it twice and breathe into it.
  21. Promise yourself to put your attention only on what is right; ignore what is wrong.
  22. Have a zoom call with family members.
  23. Minimize or eliminate time on social media.
  24. Make yourself a priority.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Whatever you end up doing this year, I hope you have an enjoyable holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for YOU. ❤️