Happy Thanksgiving! Reader Stories of Less Traditional Ways to Enjoy the Holiday

Happy Thanksgiving! Reader Stories of Less Traditional Ways to Enjoy the Holiday

Janel Laban
Nov 22, 2012

I always think that Thanksgiving is a very Apartment Therapy-ish holiday - a day that is centered around appreciating what you have and celebrating home, regardless of whether it's in the actual physical space or simply with people that make us feel safe and happy. Last November on this day, I shared some wonderful reader Thanksgiving stories and this year, I'm following up with more, this time with a focus on some less-traditional ways to enjoy the day. Have fun reading them, share your own memories and traditions in the comments and know that all of us at Apartment Therapy wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

In my first year in grad. school, I was complaining before class to classmates that my husband and I (we had been married for 9 months at the time and were only 22 ) would not be able to go home for Thanksgiving for the first time, due to distance, time, and the amount of work we had to do. The professor overheard and said to me in a very stern voice--"wherever you are and people you care for are, that is your home and that is where you should spend Thanksgiving."

It completely changed the way I thought about holidays. We are where we are, and the holidays are what we make of them, alone, together, with family, whatever. Since that time (over 30 years ago), my husband and I have spent Thanksgivings with family, friends, with each other, with strangers, and alone (we have spent two years living apart due to job issues). Each has had its own tone and joys. One of the things I think we can all learn is how to be grateful for just being, whatever the situation we find ourselves in. - kariwk

When I first moved to the LA area it was right before the holidays and I was, of course, alone. Even though I don't have a dog, I went to the dog beach in Huntington Beach on Thanksgiving and Christmas and watched the pooches play in the water. There were a lot of people and dogs there and watching the dogs play put me in a very good mood. - lbc
When I was in grade school, my dad taught for a semester at the University of London. For Thanksgiving, my mom took my sister and me to the basement food court of Harrods to shop for hot dogs, the most American food we could think of and the only place we knew of that sold such exotic fare. It was 25 years ago, and we still talk about it every Thanksgiving. - eliz
The nice thing about Thanksgiving is that it's so much easier to share with friends. I'd say start the day by participating in your local Turkey Trot 5K and then find some other friends who are also not with family on T-day to share a meal with, whether it's traditional turkey or something totally different. Add lots of wine and you'll have a great day. - LSUgrad03
There are some things even being in a different state can't take away from my tradition, such as the annual Thanksgiving re-listen of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant". While my family never does it because the guys are all about football, I really enjoyed my best friend's tradition of going to a movie. After all that food, there really isn't the energy to do much else, and when better to hit the cinema? - bodicegoddess
I love morning bike rides or runs, followed by a warm shower and getting clean. Then the Macy's parade while I cook whatever I've told friends I would bring, and for most years since college, I've been having Thanksgiving with friends, being invited to other people's thanksgivings. I love it. - Bee T
Break out the board games and the bubbly - one of my favorite Thanksgivings was me, my friend Abby and my Dad like little orphans at a horrible chain restaurant followed by a few friends wandering in later that night to get completely trashed playing Trivial Pursuit. Life isn't always a Hallmark card but with the right "oh what the hell" spirit, it is always an adventure! - Keough
The last two years I've gone to national parks to camp. They're empty except for international tourists on Thanksgiving! And being in nature makes it easy to celebrate "Buy Nothing Day" on Friday. - april_in_autumn
We've been doing the same thing year in and year out (at least 25 years, longer than I've been alive) but our family loves it and it never gets boring. We pack 30 people into my aunt's 200 year old farm house, and our meal is pot-luck style! We have too many people to sit at the table and eat, so we're casual and go back to the couch, or kitchen counter, or game room, or floor, or wherever we find a flat space to park it. It sounds uncivilized, but it's fun, and I get stressed out by stuffy holidays in my Sunday best, so I really love our casual Thanksgiving (in jeans, of course). - MissMeaghan
For the past couple of Thanksgivings I spend part of the day getting a jump on what little Christmas shopping I have to do. Some stores are open and there aren't masses of people. Then I take it easy on Black Friday, treat myself to a manicure or a movie or a nice meal. - tahitianpearl
I think volunteering is the ultimate way to show your thanks-- giving to others. - tr6varrati
I moved away from my family in 2008 and have made it a tradition to take a trip every Thanksgiving to somewhere nearby (within a one day drive) and new to me. This makes the holiday special and something to look forward to! In the past 3 years I have visited New York City, Baltimore, and Chicago for Thanksgiving. All trips were with friends/SO and all were done on a very limited budget. - Lucy Lamare
When living in the UK I decided a traditional Thanksgiving dinner would cure my homesickness. In addition to the 6 guests I was intending, at least a dozen others were invited by my well-meaning (non-cooking) bf. It was noisy, crowded, not enough seating, more food than a small army could eat, and everyone loved it...exactly like Thanksgiving at home. I admit there were tears on the day, but it is one of the best memories of my time spent there. - DianeE
For those in the warmer parts of the world, Thanksgiving is a great day to go on a solitary picnic. Even though I really enjoy autumn picnics, it's still a reminder. Cooking outside on a wood fire while alone outside is a great way to remind yourself of 1) how wonderful modern kitchens are, 2) what a pleasure hot water from the tap is, 3) friends and family are a gift not a given, and 4) that having a roof is really, really nice. I tend to forget how luxurious daily living is for most of the year. - m_j_s
I have found myself boyfriendless and at loose ends for Thanksgiving, and mentioned this fact at a diner where I am a regular -- so am now going to their orphans thanksgiving. Closing up the restaurant, throwing a potluck. I couldn't be more thankful to live where I do and know these wonderful people. - pamh

*Tradition* can be positive and/or negative. THANKFULNESS for one's blessings in any situation is the antidote for depression. wherever you find yourself, be it alone or in a crowd, count your blessings. There is always joy to be found in the moment if one searches...A Blessed & Happy Thanksgving to all. - discerning

Happy Thanksgiving to the entire Apartment Therapy community and have a wonderful day, no matter how you decide to spend it!

More Reader Thanksgiving Stories

(Image: Adrienne Breaux - Matt & Leah's Modern Menagerie)

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