Dear June, Thanksgiving Plans

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By June O'Connor

My son wants me to come to his home for Thanksgiving (a seven-hour drive), but I prefer to spend it with a widow friend like myself. When I asked if I could invite this friend, my son said no. I do not want to drive alone for seven hours in my 15-year-old car. My son said to fly or take a bus, but I hate the bother of arranging that. What really bothers me is that last year he said I should have brought my daughter’s mother-in-law with me, but this year he won’t welcome my friend. Should I mention that?

Do not quote last year’s story, since it seems obvious that your son is comfortable with family members at his Thanksgiving table but not people he does not know. Since your son really wants you to join his family for Thanksgiving, it seems wiser in the long run for you to do so. After all, work and school are closed at holiday time in order to foster family relationships. You and your friend could celebrate the holiday on another day. As you age, there will be times when you will want your children and grandchildren to assist you; thus, it is wise to enhance their lives while you are able. Although your son is an irritant right now, do not deprive him — or any other family members who are at your son’s house for the holiday — of your loving presence. In future years, your son may offer to come to your city. Family life is filled with taking turns. Sometimes we are asked to make the effort; other times, we rely on the younger ones. My suggestion is: Make a generous effort as long as you are able. And enjoy Thanksgiving with your friend the week before or after. You can do both; you do not need to make this an either/ or decision.

I am a 62-year-old single man and I enjoy (the company of) various friends throughout the year, except for holidays. Please remind your readers to include singles in their holiday gatherings. I often sit alone on Memorial Day, July 4, etc. when I would love to be invited over.

In addition to your suggestion, let’s look at some others. I do not want you to feel helpless, simply waiting for an invitation that may or may not come. Rather than sit and hope that others will invite you, how about considering the following?

- Plan a gathering yourself by inviting some of your favorite friends to join you at your home for a barbecue or potluck, or for a picnic in a nearby park.

- If you don’t know how to cook, take a cooking class and make new friends who enjoy socializing over meals, including holidays.

- Invite others to join you for a movie, followed by conversation at a local coffee bar.

Many people enjoy variety, and it’s true for most, I think, that if you invite them to fun events, they are more likely to think of you when planning their holidays.  CD

Ph.D June O'Connor

If you have a problem for Dr. June O’Connor, write to: Dear June, Catholic Digest, P.O. Box 6015, New London, CT 06320 or email her.