Thanksgiving Alone

I recount how I spent the holiday on my own, and my gratitudes for exactly where I am.

By Ellie Younger December 1, 2020
Happy Thanksgiving

This past week, many U.S. citizens took part in celebrating Thanksgiving. A holiday that often involves gratitudes, plates full of food, and hugs from every family member was adapted in order to prioritize safety. I, for one, made the decision that staying in Michigan would be safer than flying home, or bringing my germs to family who lived in states nearby. For the first time ever, I spent the holiday fully alone. 

Except, I wasn’t really alone, was I? I knew I was joined by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe who were making similar sacrifices this year in order to keep their families healthy. My house may have been empty save for me, but my heart was full knowing that I had friends who had offered to take me in, family constantly calling, and plenty of time to spend reconnecting with myself. 

The morning of Thanksgiving, my family and I made brunch together on Zoom – and although we may have been in three different time zones, I was still able to connect with my parents and sister through the binding agent that is food. We talked and laughed and ate, drawing turkeys in our own competition to create the best rendition of said animal. We discussed what we were grateful for and toasted to the fact that we could be together – even while thousands of miles apart. 

sharing on Zoom turkey drawings

I focused on making new traditions even while on my own, engaging in my hobbies as I made earrings out of clay, and binged episodes of Survivor. I played virtual games with my parents at night while I ate Slurping Turtle I had purchased the day before and been saving for the occasion. We suggest checking out the apps Catan Universe, Hearts+, and Euchre 3D.

The day closed with a bitter sense of melancholy. I treasured the new ways I was able to find connections, but I still felt a deep sadness that I was unable to see my family in person. I allowed myself to hold both these emotions at once, feeling grateful and lonely, balancing joy with a sense of yearning. 

There are challenges that come with moving away from home – you will be lonely and sad some days, I can guarantee it. But here in Ann Arbor, there are people and opportunities that make it worth it. I am so grateful to live and learn in this wonderful state called Michigan.

Ellie Younger

Ellie Younger is a sophomore majoring in nursing and minoring in global health. Ellie works as a medical record reviewer, and is happy to have found her U-M community in the club Survivor Michigan, for which she is an HR executive. She loves hiking in her home state of Oregon, conversations about social justice, and good poetry.