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  • Writer's pictureHeather Green

My Thanksgiving Traditions for Two (or Less)

Updated: Dec 24, 2023

I have really great childhood memories of the holiday’s thanks to my mother. She really owned this holiday in particular and started cooking the turkey the night before and the pies a day before everything else. I can still remember the smells of the house.


When I first got married, my husband and I would split our time between our families. When we moved up here to Massachusetts we didn’t have a family to visit and we don’t have any children, so our large Thanksgivings with lots of people were gone. Now, this might sound really lonely, but it allowed me to create Thanksgiving traditions that are special to my husband and I. So if you find that your Thanksgiving table is a little emptier than usual, let me give you some really fun suggestions.

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This was something Ifromburnout had to learn through my therapist. For as wonderful as my holidays were with my mother, in the same house my father was the complete opposite. It was a bit like growing up with the Grinch. He was about as far away as you could get from the festive spirit. Growing up in that kind of home left me constantly waffling between those two complete opposites. I would either pack each day full of celebratory things to the point of burn out, or I’d get severely depressed and want to sit there watching TV and hoping the holidays would just blow over.

The truth is both examples were out of balance.

So when I brought this up to my therapist she explained that the holidays typically bring up our families in our minds. I mean, think of all the holiday commercials with the whole “NORMAL FAMILY” Theme where they are all enjoying each other’s company..which is really not that normal anymore. She asked me to carefully consider what I want MY holiday to look like. Perhaps I like making the whole dinner, but maybe tone it down so that I have time to rest as well so that I’m neither acting out my father or my mother. I’m being truer to myself, and just picking out and doing what my husband and I enjoy doing.

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In my post The Most Compelling Women’s Empowerment Book I’ve Ever Read, I talk about the story of the Ugly Duckling and how through that story I learned that sometimes you’ll be born into families that you just don’t match and that’s okay. It’s now your mission to find others who you can call family.

So one thing my husband and I started doing, was to invite our friends, who for whatever reason just found themselves alone for Thanksgiving to come over and be a part of our celebrations. It was a wonderful way to reconnect but to also fill up our table with wonderful people who would (like us) find themselves a little lonely for this holiday.

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No, I don’t mean diet (unless you want to), I mean don’t feel obligated to cook the whole spread if you don’t want to!

My mother cooked for a family of five! I use to as well but it is just my husband and I and truthfully food started going bad. So I started ordering little premade meals from our grocery store, but even that seemed to be too much and my husband and I discovered that we really didn’t enjoy turkey. So we tried Ham, and that was too much and we also got tired of that pretty quickly! In the end, we realized that in all actuality we just didn’t like the same leftovers every night for a full week! So how did we remedy that? We ate out! That’s right, we eventually started making reservations at a restaurant called the Beehive in Boston where you get to watch a live Jazz show and eat a reasonably sized holiday dinner.

If you do this, as a former server I need to ask that you please please please make sure to be kind and TIP your servers. After all, they are working on a holiday.

So how was that experience of eating out for Thanksgiving? Well, I loved it! I got to chill out during the day, and I didn’t have to wrestle people at the grocery store, waste a lot of money on food that would go to waste, spend all day on my feet disconnecting from the festivities because I’m cooking, and then dealing with clean up and leftovers while I’m full of food and tired. If I end up having children, this might change, but since this post is for “Two or Less” I’m going to enjoy my choice of eating out.

What I’m also saying is don’t feel obligated to eat what you’ve always eaten because tradition dictates it must be that way. Try making Lobster, Lamb, Ham, or even just maybe a giant Charcuterie that you munch on throughout the day! This isn’t about tradition…This is about you creating a tradition for yourself that makes you feel warm and thankful for what you have.

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If I’m currently not cooking my Thanksgiving dinners, what am I doing with all that free time? Well, the following:

1.) I watch the Macy’s Day Parade. This was something I honestly enjoyed as a child. It was the official marking of the Christmas season for me. I liked the dancers and the bad lip sinking and even the end when Santa appears because it just brings back all those fun childhood memories I want to keep.

2.) After the Parade, is the National Dog Show where they basically name the dog of the year. While I currently only have cats, I grew up with dogs, so this is always fun to watch.

3.) I like to spend some time journaling and being reflective about what I’m thankful for in my life especially in the last year.

4.) I start setting up our tree because the tree set up and putting on the lights is the least fun in my opinion (and I am never again going to buy a pre-lit one, which I will talk about in a later post). Getting the tree assembled and the lights on it gets me all ready to decorate them stress-free the next day.

5.) Lastly, if I have the time and energy, I like to start writing my Christmas cards and getting them out so that I don’t have to worry about them with everything else that is going on during the month of December.

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Hopefully, if you find your table a bit empty this year this post has shown you that you can still have fun. It’s a holiday after all and we don’t have to always obey the image others have set for us on what the ideal holiday is supposed to look like. If it makes you happy, if you feel like you enjoyed your time at the end of the day then you did it right. If you have some traditions of your own that you’d like to share, please let me know in the comments below. I love connecting with my readers.As always thank you for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day and a Happy Thanksgiving.

-Heather Autumn



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