Solo Turkey Day

9:47 AM

Have you ever spent Thanksgiving away from family & friends?

It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. As I write this, it makes me realize how cush of a life I get to live and be thankful all over again.

Let's go back about five or so years ago. I was away at college and working at Staples. Yes, red shirt and black pants, uniform to boot. I was told I had to work on "Black Friday". Thus meaning, I could not drive home to be with my family for one of, if not, my favorite holiday. I was super sad, but what can you do? When you have a job, you must be responsible.

It truly gave me perspective on Thanksgiving, but really any holiday. I actually knew what it felt like to not be surrounded by loved ones, not have a delish and over indulgent holiday spread, and the comfort of family/noise/laughter/general happiness. Thankfully, I wasn't completely alone. Two of my three roommates were actually stuck in SLO with me, so it didn't make it as unbearable as it could have.

I'm not really sure what I did during the day time. Probably lounged, maybe worked out, but I dreaded calling home. I knew I'd hear laughter, have the phone passed around to family member's, and I'd be able to recall all the delicious smells that go on during our family parties. I do, however, remember that my roommates and I went out searching for some dinner. None of us wanted to attempt to cook a Thanksgiving meal, so we set out to find some food. We ended up going to the Chinese restaurant right around the corner. Great food, but just not Thanksgiving! Add the fact that you feel bad patronizing a place where people are working on a holiday, it makes you feel slightly worse.

Years later, I sit and reflect upon that day. I vowed never to not be by my family, if I have the choice. Was working at Staples and making $10/hour really worth it? No, probably not, but it taught me something. Although I want to be an upstanding employee, being around my family is what means the most to me. It generated sincere compassion for the tons of people who do not have this as well. Or others who do not have food or shelter. So though, I always feel blessed for all things I have, I have a deeper empathy for those who do not have the things that we take for granted. The next time you are stressing over making your dish for the big day, remember there are thousands, or even millions, of people who don't know when their next meal will be or where they will lay their head to sleep.

It makes me that much more grateful for the live I am able to live. The words "grateful" and "blessed" don't ever seem like they are enough. The essence behind them is true and genuine, but saying I'm grateful, blessed, or thankful seems to diminish what I really feel. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by 40 or so family and countless friends during the holidays, who make up my happy place. I knew this before, but just a slight change in perspective can give you new insight.

Personally, I take this feeling of "gratefulness" all the way through Christmas. I may not verbalize it to anyone, but I know what I could be missing out on and I cherish every second of it. Granted, I love the present exchanging and I'm the first to have my list to Santa, but the meaning and the specialness is not lost on me.

So, thank you Staples, for teaching me a valuable life lesson.

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