Kay here, your community Leasing Manager! When I moved to Valdosta 13 years ago from my hometown in Aberdeen, North Carolina, I never anticipated how much I would miss family gatherings. I landed a job with a company that I loved, but it was in retail and getting home for the holidays was nearly impossible. I felt like I was missing out on so much. It doesn’t help that my family is spread out, with my mother and brother living in NC, and my father living in Las Vegas. Needless to say, you can’t coordinate a successful Thanksgiving meal for your cross-country family when you have to be at work at midnight that night for the chaos of Black Friday.
I soon learned that family isn’t always who you’re related to, and “family” gatherings like Thanksgiving and Christmas can be just as special with friends (or even all by yourself!).
Here are some non-traditional ways to celebrate:
- Friendsgiving: Chances are, you have at least one friend or acquaintance who also lives far from home. Cook together, stuff your faces, and catch up (or get to know each other better) over dessert and a warm apple cider. If you can get a few friends together, have a giant potluck!
- Celebrate Early: Last year, I was able to get home for a few days the week before Thanksgiving. It was my mom’s idea to do Thanksgiving early, and she made it super-special by accommodating my vegan diet. We adapted some old recipes to make a “roast” with gravy, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, croissants, stuffing, and banana nut scones. I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything by the time Thanksgiving actually rolled around, plus I got to show my mom some new things in the kitchen!
- Keep a Gratitude Tracker: Each day in November write down something or someone that you’re grateful for. You can share these online if you want, keep them private, or only share them with the loved ones in your life. Incorporate them as part of a Christmas gift, even!
- Adopt a Turkey: If you’re like me, you believe that turkeys are friends, not food. Many farm animal sanctuaries offer programs to “adopt” one of their resident turkeys to help with their daily care throughout the month of November. You can even volunteer your time and spend Thanksgiving with your feathered and furry friends.
- Drop Tradition Altogether: Sometimes cooking a big meal isn’t an option. Maybe money’s tight, or all your friends are home with their families. Who says you HAVE to celebrate Thanksgiving at all??? Grab some cheap Chinese takeout, get comfy, and binge-watch your favorite TV show! Enjoy some time to yourself and do whatever feels special to YOU.
I hope that November brings you many, many reasons to be thankful, regardless of how you celebrate. Remember that even if you can’t be with your family for the holidays, you definitely aren’t alone! We’ll be hosting a Community Luncheon at the clubhouse on Wednesday, November 27th (the day before Thanksgiving) to thank YOU, our residents, for making The Gates an awesome place to live.