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In Praise of a Solo Thanksgiving | Manolo for the Big Girl

In Praise of a Solo Thanksgiving

When people ask me what I’m doing for Thanksgiving, I usually answer “not a damn thing. I’m going to watch movies in bed then I’m going to go to the Driskill, have a Manhattan, read some Tennyson and enjoy having the entire city to myself.”

The envy is palpable.

So here’s my question. If everyone’s so jealous of my Thanksgivings –which are admittedly awesome– then why am I the only one spending them the way I see fit?

See, I’m pretty meh on the whole Turkey Day thing and I’d certainly rather hopscotch Hell than partake in yet another episode of Disordered Eating Theatre.

Of Thanksgivings in the house where I grew up, I don’t honestly remember a single happy one.

What I DO remember were the eyes on my plate, silently –or not so silently– measuring how much I was taking of each thing. If I wanted second helpings or put too much of one thing on my plate, eyebrows would arch or my grandmother (Madame Food Issues herself) would ask “do you really need that extra roll?” while my naturally whip-thin brother pretty much had a feed bag attached to his ears.

Now, I’m not what you might call “naturally predisposed to shame” but that’ll do a number on a girl, even in the best of weather.

And you know, it’s not like it still keeps me up at night but at this point they’re not going to change and I’m Too Damn Old to put up with that nonsense. So I don’t go.

Sometimes I spend the day alone, just enjoying how quiet everything is. Sometimes I gather with my friends –collectively known as The Misfit Toys– and celebrate with them.

This year I’m going to dine with a couple at their snazzy little boîte -which serves the best pork confit this side of Les Deux Magots and the best Ruby Manhattans anywhere– and then waddle off to The Driskill where I will partake of a Gibson in honor of my beloved Grandfather, who would’ve turned 81 today.

The moral of the story is the filthy separatist heretics noble pilgrims blew that green and pleasant popsicle stand because they wanted to live life the way they saw fit, even though it probably upset their parents.

So why on earth –especially at Thanksgiving– shouldn’t we do the same thing?

Gobble gobble y’all. I’ll see you on Friday.

14 Responses to “In Praise of a Solo Thanksgiving”

  1. mary martha November 25, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

    I am right there with you on avoiding the family shame fest that is Thanksgiving.

    I volunteer with the USO for Thanksgivng and get to spend the day with a dozen young sailors (in their snappy dress uniforms) who are all happy to be spending the day away from Boot Camp.

    It’s perfect. They are thankful to be there, I am thankful to spend the day with them and we all enjoy the day. No guilt, no shame, just thanks!

  2. Lisa November 25, 2009 at 4:45 pm #

    Oh I hope you have a lovely day! Here’s to a day free of stares and glares. If it’s not about having a good time and genuinely enjoying each other, then to heck with it! Noticing what anybody else eats is a pretty big sign of NeedingToGetALife-itis. While you are watching movies, pick out some fabulous shoes for me to buy. And some way to afford them.

    And EVERY girl loves a sailor, mary martha! I hope you and your sailors have a wonderful day.

    I am going to spend the day with a bunch of thin foodies who put me to utter shame in the eating volume department. This year, my assignment is pears. I am making pears poached in beaujolais nouveau and then finishing it in a chocolate cup with custard and caramel sauces.

    You people talked me out of yesterday’s shoes. Even though they had RIBBONS. Shouldn’t you be suggesting something else for me to buy? What are you DOING with your time??

    And I finished my database, and kitty still lives (playing in the closet, right now).

  3. Plumcake November 25, 2009 at 5:27 pm #

    Oh don’t you worry Lisa, we’ve got all sorts of stuff cooked up for you. Check out YOOX’s promotions there are some insane sales on right now (Valentino heels for $80? Don’t mind if I do.)

    Mary Martha, PLEASE tell me you say “Hello Sailor” to each and every one of them. It’s like living the dream!

  4. Debs November 25, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    My bettter half and I have done the solo thing together for years now. No relatives!!! No mother-in-law with the dreary, overly formal dining room and food preparations telling her only son he looks fat & she hates his clothes…No two dinners with two families and no time to ourselves and resulting indigestion.

    We spent today gathering fun food for two here in Foodie Northern California. For just us two, we can eat whatever we want. I’m thankful for the fabulous, pricey feast and thankful my Hubby is doing so well—the chemotherapy is working and he’ll be fine.

  5. La Petite Acadienne November 25, 2009 at 8:47 pm #


  6. jen209 November 25, 2009 at 11:20 pm #

    You have made me very thankful for my non-judgmental family, and I can’t say we’ve ever had a holiday that I’ve hated. However, Thanksgiving was never a huge deal for us, and ever since my brother and I went far, far away in different directions for college, it has been even less of a deal. We just wrap the Thanksgiving meal into Christmas now.

    Consequently, I spend Thanksgiving differently every year – usually with whoever will take me in. This year I am very excited that, after a long, stressful November, I will be attending a Thanksgiving dinner that will literally not require me to put on shoes – ie at our neighbor’s apartment. It will be low-key and casual, which is just what I want. And then on Friday, I’m jetting off to NYC for a quick, last minute trip to see a museum exhibit before it closes and do some shopping. Plumcake, your next post should be “In Praise of Solo Traveling” – not saying I always want to travel solo, but I find it quite enjoyable when I do go alone.

  7. gemdiva November 25, 2009 at 11:53 pm #

    I totally agree with you Plumcake. We should do what makes us happy and never expose ourselves to practitioners of the buzz kill. I happen to come from a rowdy, hilariously funny family that has always enjoyed each other’s company tremendously. We believe in a day of feasting (being Italian this often means lasagna or manicotti followed by a full turkey dinner) followed by multiple courses of desert. Wine and merriment rule the day. So, I have always spent Thanksgiving the way I love to…..in the company of some of the wittiest afficionados of fun, food and conversation I know. And if you think that sounds like a good time, you should see us at Christmas :-)

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and may all your Manhattans be perfect!

  8. megaera November 26, 2009 at 3:19 am #

    I love my family, and I’ve always loved Thanksgiving with mine. True to Texas, I recall going off to target shoot after a huge meal (which my sister mentioned once in California to blank stares, except for the girl from Louisiana who went, “You, too?”) No one comments on portions, everyone stuffs themselves silly, and only vegetables in the “au gratin” family are allowed. Much joy is had by all. That being said, your Thanksgiving sounds wonderful as well, although I honestly thought you’d spend Thanksgiving in your shoe closet, wearing each pair and giving thanks for the day you bought them.

  9. Lisa November 26, 2009 at 3:28 am #

    Would there be something wrong with one with spending Thanksgiving with one’s shoes? Oh! I see! One’s handbags might feel neglected. That would never do… ;)

    I did stop by Yoox. I found purple flats for $29. My life is worth living again.

    I envy gemdiva her family. That’s the family I always wanted.

  10. Evie November 26, 2009 at 4:56 am #

    Debs, I’m with you! My family is generally lovely as far as holiday celebrations go, but unfortunately we’re currently living closer to my in-laws, who are meddling and passive aggressive in the extreme. Um, no thanks, I’d rather not spend my second favorite holiday with that kind of negative energy…

    Instead, we plan on cracking the first bottle of wine at noon, and having our own little two person drinking and cooking party for the rest of the day!

  11. theDiva November 26, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

    God love ya, Plummy. Happy birthday to your Grampy, may he RIP, and have a marvelous Thanksgiving.

  12. zuzu November 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    I’m also a solo Thanksgiving girl. It’s become a weird holiday for me anyhow (my mom died the day before Thanksgiving seven years ago), and it’s not like it was a festival of joy before that. Growing up, my dad would invariably get drunk and start pissing on everyone, then there were the few happy years after he died and when we would go to my grandma’s place. But after Grandma died, my brother no longer felt the need to be on his best behavior and essentially started taking after my father and being verbally and emotionally abusive. My mom felt no need to check him, which soured the last few holidays I had with her, and because I was relying on public transportation to get home, I was trapped until the next bus came. He also had the gall to get bent out of shape when I refused to go to my mother’s place for Christmas after an especially abusive Thanksgiving, when his fiancee joined in as well. The only time he left me alone was Thanksgiving 2001, when I was crazy-eyed after 9/11 (I live in NYC and worked downtown at the time; downtown was still on lockdown at the time).

    I had a few Thanksgivings with friends or their families after Mom died, but inevitably, I had to be witness to someone else’s family dramas. So I decided a few years ago that I would cook myself a big spread and set the table and have my own Thanksgiving feast. It’s worked out great, but I’m thinking I need to follow mary martha’s lead and start volunteering.

  13. Jane November 28, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    If I were to have Thanksgiving on my own, it would involve the death of a parent I love quite a lot, so I will go along with all the tradition for his sake. But when the inevitable occurs (and may it be many years away), I have this secret vision of booking a trip to the Caribbean for Thanksgiving. BY MYSELF.

  14. La Petite Acadienne November 29, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    I also dream of a solo Thanksgiving sometimes (not really solo, but just me, the husband, and the wee one.) No major drama or abuse in our family, but my mother and my sister always know precisely how to push each others’ buttons. Add wine, stir, and you inevitably wind up with a tearful argument, or at the very best, just that lovely little feeling of tension in the air.