It’s OK to be alone

By Bryan Richardson

I spent Thanksgiving alone.

This isn’t a column looking for sympathy. I’m just stating what happened.

I actually enjoyed the day.

I didn’t work.

I watched football.

I talked with my family on the phone.

However, spending Thanksgiving or Christmas by yourself does have a certain stigma attached to it.

No one should be alone on the holidays.

The plot of every other Christmas movie involves somebody changing his or her ways to avoid being alone.

The days leading up to Thanksgiving did bring invitations to other households.

It’s interesting that people only do this on certain holidays.

Nobody cares if you were alone on Halloween.

You don’t get the sympathetic looks from people when you say you’re staying at home by yourself on Columbus Day.

PEOPLE DON’T feel compelled to invite you over on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are different because those holidays are based around family gatherings.

The general thinking is that you should spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with a family – even if it’s not your family.

Since I moved to Manhattan in August 2010, I’ve spent four family holidays by myself: Thanksgiving 2010, Christmas 2011, Thanksgiving 2012 and Thanksgiving 2013.

Sometimes, I fear that I’m giving off the wrong impression about myself with this admittedly anti-social behavior at times.

I spend a lot of time alone, but I like people.

I can be a social person, but I won’t say a word if I’m not comfortable.

And my uncomfortable level goes to 11 when I’m in a new environment around people I don’t really know.

If I had an animal-like defense mechanism, it would be on full display during a visit to somewhere new.

Much appreciation to those that invited me to a Thanksgiving gathering, but a family holiday with another family is terrifying to me.


THE FEAR comes from a lot of places, some of it no doubt irrational.

Should I have brought something?

Am I being too quiet?

Did I wear the wrong colored shirt?

Those aren’t the only reasons I would feel uncomfortable.

What it really comes down to is that there just isn’t a substitute for home on the holidays.

I’ve managed to survive every family holiday away from people without sadness.

I’ll admit that sitting at a table for one on Christmas at IHOP isn’t exactly a highlight in my life.

I love pancakes, but eating alone in public on Christmas is like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of holiday celebration.

The IHOP experience played a role in the development of my new Thanksgiving tradition: cooking for myself.

My mom mailed a complete Thanksgiving dinner to my apartment in 2010, which was my first Thanksgiving away from home.

As wonderful as she is, I figured I shouldn’t count on that happening every year.

I spent the next Thanksgiving with fellow reporters, but I found myself without a place to go last year.

As I considered my pizza options, it hit me that I should probably cook something.


I WENT to the grocery store to pick up some items and made a meal.

I felt oddly empowered. It never occurred me that I would have that particular emotion.

Cooking on a random Thursday is as insignificant as something witty I can’t think of at the moment.

Cooking a whole dinner on Thanksgiving felt the same as I imagine climbing Mount Everest would feel.

As this Thanksgiving approached, I actually looked forward to cooking dinner.

I made as close to a Thanksgiving meal from home as I could: turkey legs, dressing, macaroni and cheese, and sweet potatoes.

I talked to my mom about her dressing recipe and took a picture to show the finished product.

In some ways, cooking that dinner helped me feel closer to home.

If you can’t be with the ones you love, imitate their cooking.

I’ll be home for Christmas, though.

No IHOP for one.

No cooking for one.


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