Thanksgiving in St. Louis
I usually go out of town to visit relatives, but this year I am in town -- too short a time window to justify a trip, especially since my Dx. Wanted the board's feedback on something.
Typically, when I don't make it somewhere to spend the holiday with family or a really close friend -- I would have volunteered somewhere to serve food at a senior center or homeless shelter. However, I'm not consistently strong enough right now to make that commitment.
I hate to spend Thanksgiving alone but I don't want to have to hint to people / beg either. Since I live somewhere that I moved after 20 years somewhere else, I don't have a ton of connections here, although I do have some as it is my home town. But I don't feel comfortable begging a pity invite from someone either.
Originally I had expected to spend the holidays with some cousins in town. They had a baby due, and his parents (whom I'm very close to) were going to be in town next week and likely stay with me. Unfortunately the baby was 7 week premature -- she's doing great now though -- so the parents came down a few weeks ago.
The cousin's mom asked me on the phone yesterday where I was going to be for Thanksgiving and I said, Oh here in town. She sounded surprised and made some comments about all the family the local branch would have home. However, she studiously did not ask whether I have plans.
Should I drop bigger hints or forget the whole matter? My cousin and his wife have the new baby, plus her two kids (one home from college and another in HS) plus whatever other people they invite.
I would obvious pitch in with food / expenses or whatever. It's just the kind of holiday you want to spend with people you care about -- e.g. family or close friends.
One of my best in-town friends is driving out of state to visit family and for a job interview. The other closest few have been too busy lately get together more than once every few months -- so I really don't feel comfortable hinting to them -- much less those people I see even less.
I kind of thought/wished that I might experience "Hallmark moment" when one of my connections locally who knows I'm sick might have thought -- Gee, bet she can't travel and I haven't really seen much of her lately. I should at least check in on her and see how she is doing, and invite her to break bread with us -- she's always such a great friend and good company. It's time for us to give back a little.
OK -- so this post is getting a little long, whiney and self-absorbed -- and I guess unrealistic. But generally speaking, I am that fun person.
The ironic thing is that most of my out of town buds have been checking in on me (phone/e-mail) in general, and asking about my holiday plans. It's almost like the fact that they don't see me makes the disease more real/scary. The locals see how I look physically(on my good days I get out) and think it must not be so bad.
My question - Leaving out people who wouldn't ask me generally, am I not getting any invites because:
1) It hasn't occured to people that I'm staying in town, and they aren't interested enough to ask....
2) There isn't room at the table -- e.g. too many "incumbent" guests coming...
3) Even though I don't focus on the topic of my health (I answer questions succinctly when asked and then move on to another topic, otherwise I don't talk about it) because my presence could be a downer if people "know?"
I feel like some silly whiney girl who's upset she didn't get asked to the school dance. I hate this, and it is not my personality -- thanks for letting me vent. It's great that we can do this stuff here -- rather than the "real world" -- it makes us all much more bearable, I'm sure....
Holidays and celebrations can be stressful and sad, especially if your family isn't nearby. Unfortunately, I think Hallmark, et al. have built the holidays up so much that for many people, the reality doesn't match up to the expectation. I don't think anyone intends to leave you out of things - they are just used to you being self-sufficient and having other plans for the day. Since you normally go out of town, most people probably assume you are doing the same this year. As you probably have figured out by now, most people who don't live with a chronic illness have no idea how it impacts the day-to-day life of those who do - so I doubt they have considered that you might not feel up to travel this year. This isn't lack of consideration or compassion on their part - simply that this illness and its effects are outside their experience.
If you are close to these cousins and feel comfortable with them, why not simply call and explain you are at loose ends this year and would really love to see them and the baby? Of if you have friends you know are single and don't have family around, why not call and invite two or three of them for Thanksgiving dinner? Reach out to someone else, an elderly neighbor, a divorced or widowed friend, a military wife whose husband is overseas. I guess my point is - you are not the only one who is alone, and brooding about it and wondering if people don't want to be around you because of your illness - will only make you feel more isolated and depressed. You can't sit back and wait for your friends to come to you because it probably won't happen. So you have to reach out to them. This isn't whining, or neediness, or asking for help or favors - you wouldn't feel imposed upon if one of your friends called you up, so why shouldn't the same be true for you?
I totally agree with MaryCain. I'm sure you would gladly extend a hand to a friend in your same situation, so your friends probably would, too, if they realized.
I think it's ok to tell someone when they ask about your plans that you aren't feeling well enough to travel and that you are hoping to find some plans locally. That way people know you are open. It doesn't obligate them to ask you, either.
And, as Marycain pointed out, don't forget that there is probably someone you know who is also alone this season and would love to share a meal with you! You could reach out to them
However it turns out, I do hope and pray that you have a loving and Happy Thanksgiving!!
Peace and Blesssings