Lonely Thanksgivings, college style

What it really feels like to be stuck at school on a holiday

More stories from Hailey Novak


Photo by Submitted

Staff Writer Hailey Novak celebrates Friendsgiving with roommates Jordan Conlon and Coral Managan at their college apartment around the holidays.

The headline of this article may sound depressing as heck, but you’ll relate on a spiritual level if you’re stuck working the Thanksgiving Day shift or you have an estranged relationship with your family and end up dining solo.

My sophomore year of college, I took one for the team and volunteered (hindsight is 20/20 folks) to work the Thanksgiving Day shift at the bar where I served. I jumped in when everyone else said they weren’t available and convinced myself the extra cash would be worth it.

That’s how I found myself spending my formerly favorite holiday alone in my chilly apartment waiting for the oven timer to signal my frozen pizza was ready.

Instead of dining on my favorites like green bean casserole and that weirdly delicious cranberry “sauce” that comes in a can (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it), I was sitting on my couch eating cheese pizza straight off the cardboard.

A glamorous Thanksgiving meal to say the least.

Since my shift didn’t start until 4 p.m., I was left with too small a time window to drive home for the day and back but plenty of time to wallow in my holiday loneliness.

To add insult to injury, the pub was so dead during my shift that I was cut after a mere three hours on the job, leaving me with the whole night ahead to regret not asking off and a measly 15 extra dollars in my pocket.

So from someone who’s been there and done that, I’m telling you right now if you’re spending turkey day alone — buck up.

If I could redo that day sophomore year, I would have planned ahead and bought all the fixings to make my own Thanksgiving feast instead of crying into my slightly burnt Kwik Trip pizza.

If you have no choice but to be stuck in your college town and are someone who thrives on family get-togethers, I recommend planning a Skype date with your family at some point during the day so you at least feel partly included in the festivities.

Lastly, do not — I repeat — do not wallow in your loneliness. It won’t change the fact you’re stuck at school; it will just make the time to go by slower and you’ll have spent one of the best days of the year being sad.

Understandably, this is easier said than done. My advice is to try and rally any friends or even acquaintances who might also be spending the day stuck at school for some reason and throw your own Friendsgiving.

Invite them over or head to their place with a dish to pash. Find community in the fact that at least you’re all in this together.

Oh, and next year, do yourself a favor and ask off way in advance.

To all of you going solo on turkey day this year, you have at least one thing to be thankful for: not having to debate the presidential election outcome with grandma or your super conservative uncle.