Thanksgiving is a holiday noted for its family atmosphere. This is a time for the grandparents to visit or for the family to head out of town and give thanks for health and humanity. But what about leaving those kids behind? Is this really the type of holiday where you need all those noisy headaches running around?
The standard dividing lines, of course, involve couples without kids or grandparents who are too old (cranky and fussy) to enjoy having their home taken over by so-called rug rats. Those situations lend themselves to adult-only celebrations, which can be a truly great way to enjoy the holiday.
One of my favorite Thanksgivings ever was at a neighbor's home, which included an open invitation to adults who had no family with whom they could share their Thanksgiving. Picture a college town with many adults living for a short period of time, some for an entire school year. Add in one or two lonely-hearts and pretty soon you have a handful of adults who are contemplating sleeping through Thanksgiving or going out to a restaurant to eat alone. There are many of these almost-homeless types that live under the radar. They are not homeless; they are family-less.
This situation came about many years ago, when an elderly woman in my neighborhood named Claire stopped driving. She lived far away from her own children and there were too many grandchildren to accommodate in her apartment. So, she stopped going to her family for the holiday and couldn't handle inviting them over. She was a widow, who was faced with the idea of spending her favorite holiday alone. So, she sent out invitations to some friends. Shortly after that, she had established an annual dinner at her house for those without nearby family. It became a very cheerful, warm and friendly annual gift from her to her community. Even better, she made many friends over the years by doing this. Every year, it seems that she had even more to be thankful for that in previous years.
I attended three of Claire's Thanksgiving meals. One of the stipulations was that everyone had to show up with a dish to pass. One of the other requirements was some alcohol. Of course, I always brought a bottle of local wine and a bunch of beers for everyone to enjoy.
These were interesting affairs. Each meal started with a gathering of people who were strangers to each other. This meant fishing around for a topic that would interest others. Midway through the meal, conversation began to swell. By the time dessert had come along, strangers were beginning to feel like trusting friends.
What follows dessert in many homes is after dinner drinks and tailgate party games. After the meal at Claire's, there would be a pause in the conversation. After a moment, Claire would announce the game she had in mind, which would be Apples to Apples, Charades, Trivial Pursuits or a nice game of corn hole toss. This alone would get people excite for next years event.
In my experience, when there are children at Thanksgiving, things can get complicated. This does not sound like much fun at all. Without kids, the adults can haul out the party games and really enjoy themselves. It's almost like they don't want to get caught by their kids playing games, so they wait for an adult-only Thanksgiving to start having fun. If you ever have the chance to have an adult only Thanksgiving, this post should help you understand how enjoyable it can actually be.