I guess I'll just get a frozen turkey dinner then...
November 16, 2018 3:22 PM   Subscribe

I feel like I'm being abandoned for Thanksgiving and I need help coping.

I don't live anywhere near my family, so we don't get to have Thanksgiving together. I'm also single, with no kids. Instead, every Thanksgiving, I have dinner with my "chosen family", my two married best friends that I live next door to. Sometimes one of their sets of parents will come, sometimes not, but we've been having Thanksgiving together for at least 6 or 7 years now. Yesterday (one week before Thanksgiving), they told me that they were seriously considering going out of town to have Thanksgiving with another friend of ours' family. For Reasons, I can't go out of town and will be completely alone for Thanksgiving if they go and they know this. I am incredibly hurt that they are considering this and I'm not sure how to deal.

If the circumstances were reversed, and I had the chance to do a thing, but doing so would leave my best friend sitting alone for Thanksgiving, I wouldn't even consider it. It really hurts that they are considering ditching me, but I don't know how/what/when to talk to them about it.

They still might not even go, which would mean that we have Thanksgiving like normal, but even the fact that they are thinking about it hurts. Plus, I have no idea if/what I'm cooking until they make up their minds. But I don't want them to stay just because I asked them to. I would feel awful if they did that. I just want to matter, and this makes me feel like I don't.

Should I tell them how I feel now, before they've decided? But then I will always feel like they just stayed because I asked them to, which, again, is not what I want. But if I wait until after, then the moment will have passed and I'll just always feel like this. Thanksgiving is supposed to be my favorite holiday, and now I just feel unloved and unwanted.
posted by Weeping_angel to Human Relations (70 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1) Tell them. They may not realize how hard you're taking it / that you don't have other offers for dinner. Maybe there's a reason they're not telling you that makes them want to go out of town (tired of cooking, friend asked for support with family) and you can find a compromise or better understand their point of view. But also be ready to accept it if they want to go, don't argue or try to guilt them.

2) Do you have other friends around? A friend ditched me for Thanksgiving on very short notice last year, and I was able to tag along with another friend and it was mostly okay and my pie was a hit. Take a risk asking folks you aren't super-close with. Even if you do end up alone, make some plans to make the day fun/special to you (and not necessarily Thanksgiving-themed).
posted by momus_window at 3:48 PM on November 16, 2018 [8 favorites]

I'm so sorry you're feeling this way! I know that the standard thing to say here is that their (possible) decision to do something else is not about you, it's about them, and so you shouldn't take it personally.

BUT, that doesn't stop it from sucking. And that doesn't mean you don't have valid feelings of upset and uncertainty and possible abandonment. Is it possible that they are embracing the idea of going out of town because they are too tired to think about doing all the cooking and hosting? Could you host this year instead? Maybe that would prevent them from wanting to skip town.
posted by mccxxiii at 3:50 PM on November 16, 2018 [12 favorites]

A second on the 'see if you can scrape together an invitation from a distant acquaintance'. As the most stable person in my family, I usually host Thankgiving. Because I'm the most stable person in my family, the rest of them are kinda prickly, and so I am always trying to acquire stray guests, both to dilute the intra-family dynamics and because they're new! and interesting! and haven't heard all of our old stories! and my family members are on good polite behavior because there are strangers around! All of my best holiday dinners have been the ones with multiple extras. So you'd be an asset to someone else's Thanksgiving table, even if you don't know them well, I bet.

Um, for your actual friends? I think you should bring it up with them as something that really sucks for you, but explicitly forgivingly? It doesn't sound as if you know what's going on with them, but holidays are complicated and stressful for everyone.
posted by LizardBreath at 3:57 PM on November 16, 2018 [15 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm not really looking for what to do about the Thanksgiving meal itself; the last thing I want is a pity invite from someone. (As far as the meal goes, I make over half the stuff, anyway, so it's not about the hosting. We've all been invited to this other friend's Thanksgiving in the past (her brother is a chef, so they go all out) and could never go. This year, my friend's parent aren't coming and apparently they just decided "Fuck it, lets go out of town!")

I'm looking for how/when to talk to them so I can express how I feel without making them (or me) feel worse. I'm incredibly bad at this sort of thing. I usually just keep everything bottled up inside, but that's not healthy and I'm really trying to be better about that.
posted by Weeping_angel at 4:11 PM on November 16, 2018

If you are also friends with the out of towners, is it possible that you would also be invited if you asked? And I don't mean in a pity-invite kind of way, just kind of assuming that it didn't occur to them that you would like to also like to be a part of this.
I would probably text them like "Do you think Sam & Alex would be cool if I came with you for Thanksgiving too?"
posted by bleep at 4:19 PM on November 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

I don't know anything about your friends' intentions, but as an outsider, it seems most likely to me that this idea has *nothing* to do with them not caring about you or valuing you. You're lucky that you have great friends and you've enjoyed so many Thanksgivings with them when it's often a holiday that people travel. Gently, I think you're overreacting a little- I know a lot of people who can't have the Thanksgiving they want for various reasons (I can't see my own family this year, because of a natural disaster), but you can reframe how you see it and the meaning you assign to it. You can express your feelings to your friends, but it seems slightly unfair to me to make them feel guilty about this.
posted by pinochiette at 4:22 PM on November 16, 2018 [90 favorites]

Response by poster: I promise not to thread-sit, but I am invited, I just can't go, which they know. (I'd have to drive down by myself, get an air b-n-b for the night by myself (friends couldn't find one with room for all of us), then leave early the next morning to drive myself back to be at work by 2 while they hung out in the other city.) Not only would that be a bunch of money that I can't really spare right now to spend a bunch of time by myself, but my dog had only gone on short car trips and is afraid of them, so I can't make the 3 hour drive with him.

I don't want them to feel guilty; I just want to express how I feel instead of keeping it bottled up because that is driving me crazy. We had a plan to celebrate the holiday together and one week before, they basically told me they'd rather leave me alone. That makes me sad. I think it would make anyone sad. I'm asking how to talk to them without making them feel guilty.
posted by Weeping_angel at 4:26 PM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

So ideally, you would be able to travel with your friends to this other place for the holiday together, yes? It's just that this particular time you can't travel, so your friends would be ditching you. I can see how that would be hurtful, especially if in the past your friends have had thanksgivings with you when nobody else has come to visit, and especially on such short notice.

But I think that holidays are stressful, and it's a bad thing to be inflexible about them. I think you should tell your friends that this hurts and that you would feel really abandoned, but I also think that you need to do some thinking about what makes thanksgiving so important to you and work out some alternative plans, either for this or future years.

Maybe a good time to talk to them about this is after you've made a tentative plan for what to do if they do go out of town. For me the food is honestly super important, so on past lonely thanksgivings (and probably this year too) I've cooked nearly a full feast and multiple pies just for myself, and that's gone a long way towards helping me find meaning and mark the change of season. It sounds like you like the cooking as well. So maybe you could plan an ammended just you version and make a shopping list for that and then talk to your friends, saying, guys, I need you to know I'm upset about this, but if this is what you're doing then I'm going to do this other thing, because it's a different plan and a different shopping list. Or maybe it's about being with family, in which case, maybe organizing a video call schedule for turkey day to far-off loved ones? And trying to schedule in this out of town dinner as well?

On preview: I think you're going to make them feel guilty. But also? They're guilty. I think that this isn't something they're doing because of you, and it's not malicious, but they're hurting you through their actions regardless. It's okay to feel hurt and sad. I think it will lead to a stronger friendship and better understanding if you explain this to them.
posted by Mizu at 4:31 PM on November 16, 2018

"I'm really disappointed that we won't be having Thanksgiving dinner together this year. It's my favorite holiday, and I've really enjoyed sharing it with you in past years. Can we [thing that would make you feel valued] soon?"

You could plan a nice dinner together another day, or a hike, or anything that counts as "special" time together. Maybe they could call you on Thanksgiving Day for a bit?

And try not to look as other options as "pity invites." There are plenty of people who I assume have their own thing going on who I would be happy to have to dinner if I knew they didn't have plans. And I'm an introvert and not usually a more-the-merrier type.
posted by momus_window at 4:32 PM on November 16, 2018 [76 favorites]

In that case I'd wait until they make up their minds, and when/if they do tell you, I think it's OK to be disappointed & to express that you're disappointed without like beating them over the head with it or drawing it out. It might make them feel a little guilty but personally I think that's OK.
posted by bleep at 4:32 PM on November 16, 2018

I don't see the point in telling them. They didn't deliberately exclude you or even absentmindedly neglect you; they tried to include you, but it won't work for reasons that are nobody's fault. You'd tell them they disappointed you, which might make you feel better, but to what end? What do you want them to do?
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:33 PM on November 16, 2018 [133 favorites]

> And try not to look as other options as "pity invites." There are plenty of people who I assume have their own thing going on who I would be happy to have to dinner if I knew they didn't have plans

Yes! I know people who want to have big crowds for Thanksgiving. Having extras show up is a favor, not pity.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:34 PM on November 16, 2018 [32 favorites]

You want to be able to tell these nice people who like you and value you that it will make you really, really sad if they go out of town on Thanksgiving and leave you alone. You can do that if you want to.

You also want these nice people who like you and value you to then not feel guilty -- which they will, because they are nice people -- and to not change their plans because you asked -- which they might, because they like you and value you. You can't have that, because their reaction is not in your control.

You have nice people who like you, who have maybe been a little thoughtless in this moment. You can tell them how you're feeling and what you'd like from them and probably get it. You will be happy, they will probably not be terribly unhappy. You can tell them how you feel but then urge them not to act on that, which is a recipe for *everyone* feeling badly because they will still be guilty if they go and you still be alone. You can not tell them how you feel, but then you will feel bad and they will feel really bad when it all eventually comes rushing out at Easter or something.

You're also pre-emptively rejecting offers from other people as pity-invites. Maybe they're invites from nice people who like you and value you but know you've got your own traditions that aren't working out this year. An invite to a friend with no alternative can be made with love and affection, not pity.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:36 PM on November 16, 2018 [28 favorites]

I don't want to get down on you, but there's already a bit of a can't win for trying feeling here for your friends. You are talking about any last minute invitations from others as "pity invites." That's not how most people in my experience feel about last minute Thanksgiving invitations. Thanksgiving is about bringing in as many people to the table and making them feel wanted. Calling it a pity invite is kind of dismissing that idea.

And your friends who are considering going out of town are not thinking about this as "they'd rather leave (you) alone." They want to join in on what sounds like a great, warm time. Is there something else bothering you with this friendship? If not, reach out to the hosts to see if there is some accommodation they can help with (maybe there is a spare room, maybe there are other participants with a spare bed in their lodgings). Try to join in.
posted by queensissy at 4:36 PM on November 16, 2018 [34 favorites]

There’s no way you’ll be able to tell them “What you did made me sad” without inspiring guilt.

What you can tell them is “The circumstances that led to my not being able to join (money, dog, job requirements) made me sad and I will miss you.”

Don’t blame your friends. They’re just doing their thing, as we all are. I’m sure they’d love it if you could have come, but you couldn’t for reasons that are unrelated to them.

You’re not abandoned, you are just having an unlucky holiday. Find alternate plans as suggested above, and maybe you’ll see that you’ve been investing too much of your happiness in your married friends.
posted by ejs at 4:37 PM on November 16, 2018 [85 favorites]

I’m not saying don’t tell them, but you may be asking a bit much. I don’t think there’s any way to tell them their choice is making you feel abandoned and unloved without making them feel bad. And if you tell them and they stay home, then...of course they’re doing it because they feel bad that you feel bad. Again, not saying keep it bottled up, but. You need to be clear in what you hope to accomplish by telling them.

Me, I’d wait to talk to them until my reaction wasn’t so raw. Could you work on turning the feelings of being unwanted to a feeling of being a bit disappointed it didn’t work out? After all, you’re invited so you’re not actually unwanted. Maybe if you make alternate plans you feel okay about, wish them well, and express that you’re bummed that you won’t be carrying on your tradition, you’ll feel better? “Bummed” is understandable, “unwanted and unloved” is a lot to lay on them, is all I’m saying.

Seconding that late invites won’t be “pity” invites, they’d be “yay, weepingangel is free this year” invites.

Holidays can really suck and I hope you find what works for you.
posted by kapers at 4:37 PM on November 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

If they come back and say they've decided to go out of town, you can say "I'm so disappointed we won't get to spend Thanksgiving together this year, I love our little tradition so much." If you say it lightly and quickly transition to "I can't go out of town so I'll be doing X. Let's do dinner soon - how the week after Thanksgiving?" you'll have expressed your disappointment (though not the depth of it) in a way that conveys that the tradition really matters to you but also says that you're taking care of yourself this year and don't need to guilt them into staying.

Being alone at Thanksgiving sucks. I've been a rando last-minute invite to the home of the type of people who LOVE hosting lots of people and it was awesome. And one year I helped serve lunch at a soup kitchen and that was surprisingly wonderful.

I think making a solid plan for yourself that you are somewhat excited about will help ease your hurt and disappointment a bit and make it easier to talk about it.
posted by bunderful at 4:48 PM on November 16, 2018 [11 favorites]

"Not bottling up feelings" does not automatically mean "telling these particular people about your feelings." It is totally understandable that you feel sad, but that doesn't mean it's their fault or that you need to have this conversation with them. If your main goal is simply not to bottle up your feelings, then journaling, talking to a third party, or staying mindful of your sadness are all great ways of doing that.
posted by lazuli at 4:53 PM on November 16, 2018 [30 favorites]

Best answer: I just want to matter, and this makes me feel like I don't.

This is the crux of it, and the fact is you do matter! These people care about you, every day. You're in each other's lives and enjoy each other's company.

Thanksgiving is a single meal. You don't have to measure your worth by how you spend a single meal. You have lovely friends year-round! Think of the people who have pretend-happy forced meals with big mismatched families who they're estranged from the rest of the year. You have the opposite - the real deal, just with conflicting schedules next Thursday.

If it were me I would go on a morning hike and see the Freddie Mercury movie next Thursday, then share a festive meal with my friends after their trip. And I'd be grateful for all of it.
posted by headnsouth at 4:54 PM on November 16, 2018 [73 favorites]

If it were me, I'd have you here for dinner. I don't know what to tell you about these other people, other than that they left you in the lurch. What the heck? That's not cool, considering that you were previously part of their Thanksgiving family.

I wish you could be part of mine, but I'm too far away.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:01 PM on November 16, 2018

we've been having Thanksgiving together for at least 6 or 7 years now.

That's kind of a long time for an ad hoc Thanksgiving.

1) Your friends absolutely don't intend or want to hurt you. They care for you. They are just looking at doing a different thing after so long.
2) Maybe, ultimately, this is a sign you could extend your social circle a little bit? Not now, but in 2019?
3) if you spend Thanksgiving alone: rock it. I once did because I had an enormous cold sore in the front of my face and I simply couldn't deal with other humans. I made chicken cordon bleu (sp?) and had dulce de leche ice cream and my very favorite wine, watched my favorite show (maybe it was West Wing at the time?) and went to bed early. It was an unmitigated delight. Don't underestimate how nice it can be to have every damn thing exactly the way you want it..
4) in 2019, maybe you should be the person who runs this show and hosts. If so, start in early October and add some people.

It sounds like you have a whole lot of things hanging on this -- worries of isolation, discomfort with being alone -- --doubt about the choices of yesteryear--maybe let some of those things guide and soothe you. You did the right things and can survive a solo holiday with some happiness in your heart.

Also, if you haven't adopted an animal, and you're thinking about it....now might be a nice time.

Best for you!

I hope this helps.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:42 PM on November 16, 2018 [11 favorites]

the last thing I want is a pity invite from someone.

Also, Thanksgiving, to me, is about the light in front of the yawning darkness of winter. It is not about pity. It is about humans warming themselves together in front of candelight, sharing food and wine, knowing all the darkness ahead, and knowing in the spring, the light will come again.

I would really encourage you to forget the idea of 'pity'. Winter celebrations of light and warmth cross cultures and religions--they actively connect people to each other. So if you want to be with people--it isn't pity, you are a flare of light among them. If you stay home, you are a flare of light at home.

It's winter; we are all flares of light.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:46 PM on November 16, 2018 [25 favorites]

There's plenty of good commentary upthread. I just popped in to add that I was abandoned at Thanksgiving one year. Here's my story.

I had just moved to a new city and didn't have a lot of close friends. I had made plans with someone, but she dropped me at the last moment and made other plans. I was sad and angry and hurt.

I was resigned to holing up with some takeout and movies and just feeling sorry for myself at home that day, when a work acquaintance called and asked me to join a group who was going out on a pub crawl the night before Thanksgiving. I wasn't certain I'd fit in because I barely knew many of the people who would be in attendance, and I'm not much of a drinker, but I went anyway.

I met my husband that night.

The moral of the story is, if you get an invitation, say yes! Be open to new things. It's probably not a "pity invite", but even if it is, SO WHAT? Don't let that stop you from having a great time, and enjoying yourself, which will ensure a good time for everyone in attendance.

Long ago, I had an internship in a city I'd never been to before. I had friends-of-friends who lived there, but I didn't know a soul in that city. I made a decision my first week there that I would say YES to every invitation I received (unless it was an invitation to do something that was an objectively bad idea, like holding up a liquor store or something.) So I did. I had a fantastic summer. I went to concerts. Art museums. Parties. I got to lounge in someone's hot tub in a fancy beach house. I had fun and made new friends.

Adventures happen when you say yes. They won't always be pleasant adventures. Sometimes things won't live up to your expectations. But more often than you think, you'll have fun, make friends, and enjoy yourself.
posted by cleverevans at 5:48 PM on November 16, 2018 [24 favorites]

I am positive that more than one organization in Tucson is putting on a free Thanksgiving meal for the needy. Find one, sign up to volunteer, help with cooking, serving, cleaning up -- and share the dinner with the people there.

It may not be the Best Thanksgiving you've ever had, surrounded by loved ones, but I'm also positive that it will be a wonderful story to tell next year.

Don't be shy. Just do it. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!
posted by kestralwing at 5:54 PM on November 16, 2018 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Seems like your underlying feel is not about Thanksgiving, per se, it's that these people are your chosen family.. which is a very specific phrase that to me indicates a connection closer/deeper than "just" a friendship. Together, you created this important tradition which to you is a symbol of your friend love. So them going elsewhere cuts like... maybe the connection isn't as close as you thought? Do they not value you like they used to?

I would tell them straight up how you feel. Maybe they just want a change of scenery and don't realize how this is affecting you. Can they invite the out-of-town friend to their place? Can all three of you do something special together to solidify your bond, either before or right after Thanksgiving? If they do go out of town can they Skype you in for a bit to say hi?

Friendships deserve the same consideration and reassurance as romantic relationships. It's okay to ask for these things. Work on a backup plan... I definitely encourage you to field other Thanksgiving offers or think of field trips for yourself... this could be a good opportunity to branch out!
posted by fritillary at 5:55 PM on November 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

My parents moved to Florida (not that we really ever had a family Thanksgiving exactly) but when that happened I decided I was going to just do something else- I did not want to go and be random person at someone else's family holiday.
I worked volunteering and it was really, really rewarding. Delivering meals to lonely shut-ins and young guys that were just aged out of the foster care programs and living in rooming houses quelled any hint of a pity party I might have.
posted by beccaj at 5:57 PM on November 16, 2018 [7 favorites]

I'm getting a very codependent vibe off of this. You were invited. It didn't work out because of logistics. It's not a fault situation. I think it would be normal to be bummed about it for half an hour and then move on to alternate plans. It's one holiday, one day you have off of work, you can do anything you want.

They aren't going to Thanksgiving with other people at you. No one is being abandoned here. I think it would be really rude and guilt trippy to say anything to them. Asking them to cancel even more so. Your reaction is extreme.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:01 PM on November 16, 2018 [74 favorites]

You’re invited, you just can’t go. You’re not being left behind, you’re opting out. Don’t go to them with how sad you were to be left behind; tell them you’re sad you couldn’t be with them.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:17 PM on November 16, 2018 [24 favorites]

Best answer: I think the most annoying thing about this situation is that they are still up in the air about it so close to the holiday, and that is affecting your ability to make plans for yourself. That is understandably very annoying and frustrating. I'm also the kind of person who, if I were in your shoes, would be upset that suddenly my usual Thanksgiving people are going out of town, but also I wouldn't want them to cancel their plans just because they felt bad for me.

So, what to do? Personally, I think you should just go ahead and make your own plans to do something else. Like someone else suggested, maybe some sort of volunteer activity? Something that you can do to remind yourself that you do matter whether or not your friends are around this Thanksgiving.
posted by wondermouse at 6:18 PM on November 16, 2018 [5 favorites]

I had a friend who I am not particularly close to (he's more my boyfriend's friend -- and let's be clear, this friend is also in a committed relationship) invite me to Thanksgiving with him and his daughter (my boyfriend may or may not be there -- he's flying back from Japan that day) and I was absolutely charmed. It was not a pity invite at all.

To be fair, I don't really like Thanksgiving because I think it tends to be about obligation and typically brings out the worst in people you love (even if they don't mean it!).

This may or may not be for you, but for a couple of years, I "celebrated" this ... thing I called "Sad Thanksgiving." It involved making Thanksgiving food for one (although generally too much) that was often didn't turn out the way I intended (and I'm a good cook so that was bothersome) and just indulging in ... feeling absolutely sorry for myself for a day. Often with wine. I get that's not for everyone (and yeah, it was mostly meant as a joke) but I liked the idea of just going with the misery and the loneliness. Because it was my choice! And there was also food!

That doesn't need to be for you, no. But you're allowed to feel sad you're alone on Thanksgiving. You're also allowed to do good things for yourself. The two aren't incompatible.
posted by darksong at 6:31 PM on November 16, 2018

Response by poster: Thank you to everyone who was understanding. I'm probably just going to make my own meal and hang out with my puppy. I understand the push-back at my characterization of a "pity invite," but the fact of the matter is, I'm shy enough that I would hate spending Thanksgiving with someone else's family that I don't know. That sounds like hell.

Fluttering Hellfire, telling me that how I feel is wrong is not helpful. The people I view as my family told me one week before a major family holiday that they got a better offer. If that sort of thing wouldn't hurt you that's great for you, but it hurts me. I explicitly stated that I didn't want anyone to cancel plans because of me. I asked for help with how to express my feelings, not to be told that I'm guilt-tripping anyone. I am actively trying to avoid being rude. You are not helping.
posted by Weeping_angel at 6:33 PM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

As someone who works in an industry where Thanksgiving is often a working day (retail), I would recommend looking at Thanksgiving not as a time where you feel left out, but as a day where you have time to yourself and can enjoy your favorites. Is it a bummer that, this year, you can’t plan to be with your friends? Sure. But it doesn’t have to be a bummer. It can be a day where you get to sleep late, have a leisurely breakfast, do your favorite downtime activities, and be well-rested for work the next day. The fact that it’s Thanksgiving Day is sort of secondary.

You could also consider hosting. Do you know anyone else who doesn’t have plans for the day? Consider inviting them over to hang out for the day.

In the end, you need to remember that you have agency here, just as much as your friends do, and if they’ve decided to do something different this year, you can do the same. You’re entitled to your feelings, but it’s honestly not very reasonable to invest so much of your sense of well-being into someone else’s holiday tradition, specifically for this reason—plans change, and people make decisions for themselves that won’t always include you. Which they have a right to do.

I don’t think you should tell them your feelings. It’s not cool to poop on someone else’s holiday because they made a personal choice that didn’t suit you. Instead, focus on what you can do to make the day enjoyable for yourself. It’s a free day off! Treat it like one.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:34 PM on November 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

I know how this feels. It’s awful. I’m sorry. But you do matter. This doesn’t change anything. I don’t think you should say anything beyond letting them know you will be sad to not be with them. That is enough to convey your feelings without putting it on them. Then plan something that is all about you for you. Can you host a few people yourself?
posted by MountainDaisy at 6:36 PM on November 16, 2018

I have very few family members in the area. My niece and her spouse have come for thanksgiving for the last few years. I would be sad, but also understanding if they chose to do something else one year, leaving me alone. Just because we have done something before, does not obligate them to do it again, even if it’s something I want. I think it’s completely ok to be sad. I just think there’s no way to tell them that without making them feel guilty, and they’ve done nothing to deserve guilt.

It would be good of them to make up their minds about more than a week in advance though. That’s short notice, in my opinion.
posted by greermahoney at 6:44 PM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If I were in your situation, I would be feeling exactly the same way you’re feeling. You had plans, and your friends changed those plans at the last minute. Not cool! And not nice.

I’m allergic to expressing emotion, so I would probably send a text that said something like “hey, can you let me know soon what you decided about thanksgiving? I need to plan for whether or not I’m cooking.” But this is kind of passive aggressive, so probably don’t be me.

Instead, I think you should wait until after thanksgiving (so you don’t have to worry about them cancelling out of guilt), and during some hangout say something along the lines of “hey friends, I didn’t want to say anything before because I didn’t want to ruin the holiday, but I was kind of hurt that you changed our thanksgiving plans last minute. The short timing kind of left me in the lurch. I totally understand if you guys want to change things up sometimes, but in the future could you give me a bit more of a heads up so I can change my plans accordingly? thanks, you’re awesome.” And then leave it there.

They’ll probably feel a little guilty—I don’t think that’s something you can get around if you want to express your feelings. But hey, they ditched you. It’s okay for them to face up to an appropriate level of guilt about that.

(Also, as an extremely shy introverted socially anxious person myself—don’t make yourself go to a strange thanksgiving, or do stuff with people you don’t know that well. Therein lies stress and fixation over the thanksgiving you SHOULD be having. If at all possible, do something luxurious and pampering instead, that’s taking advantage of solitude.)
posted by tan_coul at 7:11 PM on November 16, 2018

Best answer: So as not to abuse the edit window: I feel like a lot of responders on here are treating this like you and your friends usually do X, but this year they’re doing Y, and you’re having a pity party about it. When actually, you and your friends had specific plans, and they changed those plans at the last minute. This is upsetting! You are allowed to be upset about this. This would be upsetting even if it was just a random weekend instead of thanksgiving. I think as long as you frame what you say to them as “the way you handled this wasn’t really fair to me” and not “I’m upset that you left me alone”, you’re fine. That makes them responsible for their actions, rather than responsible for managing your emotions, if that makes sense. (Does that make sense? Maybe it doesn’t make sense.)
posted by tan_coul at 7:22 PM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Fluttering Hellfire was paying you the respect of being honest and also warning you that there are potentially worse outcomes than missing thanksgiving here. Telling you what you are feeling is wrong would be very helpful if responding while hurt and angry causes you to damage this friendship.

The pain you are feeling may cause you to misread their intentions and expecting them to ameliorate your pain, whilst perfectly understandable, could cause them to feel manipulated and angry at you.
posted by fullerine at 8:58 PM on November 16, 2018 [28 favorites]

. I explicitly stated that I didn't want anyone to cancel plans because of me. I asked for help with how to express my feelings,

"I'm really going to miss you guys this year. Happy Thanksgiving."

I honestly don't think there's much more you can say without your hurt perhaps being perceived as an effort to get them to cancel their plans. That said, if I were the one who'd made comparatively last minute other plans, I would definitely want to know if I had hurt a good friend, less the kind of resentment could curdle that might jeopardize the friendship in the long term. Maybe the time to truly express your feelings of hurt is later, after the holiday.
posted by philip-random at 9:22 PM on November 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would feel very hurt in your position. They know you can't come and are choosing to go out of town anyway. That hurts! They have the right to do what they want, obviously, but it hurts that your tradition is a lower priority for them this year than doing the other thing.

But. If you put yourself in their shoes you'll see that from their point of view, if you tell them that it isn't ok for them to make plans that aren't convenient for you to join -- even if you're invited! - it will probably not be taken kindly. You say you don't want them to change their plans just because you want them to, but that's what you'd be communicating.

I think you'll feel better if you make other plans and regroup after Thanksgiving. I think you'll feel worse if you give in to your impulse to unburden yourself about this prior to the holiday. And next year you'll be able to have the discussion much earlier.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:35 PM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would be hurt beyond measure by this, and it would gut the friendship too.

If they can't grasp how devastating this is for you, or don't care, or think it's not their problem, they are not equipped for deep friendship.

I would not tell them how you feel before Thanksgiving. Let them have their fun.

I wouldn't tell them afterwards for that matter, unless they press you to explain why things are not the same.
posted by jamjam at 9:46 PM on November 16, 2018

I'm pretty surprised by the wide range of answers here, because I read this questions, and was like, "What? This is crazy." But I guess there's a rich tapestry of human experience ...

I know that everyone feels differently about holidays, but I have spent Thanksgivings with a mixture of different friends, families, by myself, volunteering, and I hosted one year. (Never again!) My sister can't make it to the first family Thanksgiving I've been to in years, but because she just can't - she has other obligations. That doesn't mean that I don't matter to her, or that she's an inconsiderate asshole.

Sometimes, when you're an adult, you just have to fend for yourself on holidays. It's not a big deal - it can honestly be really fun. My best Thanksgiving was spent volunteering at a meal for the homeless and then going home, watching TV, and falling asleep early. And you have a dog! Hang out with your dog all day. That sounds great.

I went to Mexico for Thanksgiving three years ago and left my boyfriend at the time back in the US. My serious boyfriend! He obviously really mattered to me, but also, I'm an adult who wanted to visit her friends. I didn't go to Mexico at him. Your friends aren't going on a trip to spite you.

(On another note: It also doesn't seem like you had set plans, but rather assumed that you had plans based on previous years. So maybe learn from this that, if you're planning something with someone, to confirm those plans. I'm sure your friends thought that nothing was confirmed or set yet. If I'm wrong, sorry, but it seems a little vague from the question. If you did have clear, set plans, they're being dicks, but not to the level of anguish you're expressing here, IMO).

But in short: Practice the fine art of letting things go.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:05 PM on November 16, 2018 [54 favorites]

“Hey that’s awesome you’re taking that trip to [whatever city] to see [whomever]. I hope you have fun. Make sure you [do whatever famous experience in whatever city] and bring me back [silly souvenir from whatever city]. I’ve had a great time with you on the past Thanksgivings, they were really the best for [reasons]. I think this year I’ll [do whatever self indulgent thing you want to do], I’m just looking to relax, but damn I’ll miss your fabulous [Thanksgiving dish]. Let me know when you get back and I’ll [plan something fun and relaxing for the three of you].”

Then next Thursday, do whatever you want. Seriously, whatever you want. I’m sure a Phoenix Mefite would love to have you (I always have family around and am thrilled to have orphans over, including Mefites who’ve come). Or stay in your pajamas and eat Lucky Charms watching Kung Fu movies all day. Or take your puppy to a park and join in on someone’s muddy family football game — I promise you, you’d be welcome, though I’m not sure mud exists in Phoenix. Go eat Chinese food and go to the movies. Run a half marathon.

I tell you with all seriousness, my best thanksgiving ever was when I was stuck at home on call but had nothing to do and I just made myself the turkey day dishes I like and none of what I dont like, and drank a bottle of wine while watching sci if movies with my cat by the fire and was genuinely thankful for all of it. Later I went by myself to an old old tavern famous for its thanksgiving potluck for orphans and played pinball and struck up conversations with strangers who were there for the same reasons I was there.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:08 PM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

If this were me - and I have a bad history of avoiding intimacy, so not a role model - this would be my conclusion

- friendship is not as close as I thought (as it sounds like they‘re not generally flaky or ditzy?)
- they‘re really inconsiderate to leave me in a lurch
- maybe they don‘t want to be my „chosen family“ and this was their way if breaking free.

My thing would be to cool down the friendship one-sidedly, honestly. But I honor that you want to adress this productively instead.

That said, I would have any conversation about it after T-Day, otherwise everything will get 100% messier. Tell them, „I would never change plans on a friend and leave them in a lurch like that. And yeah, you asked me along, but the fact that it was so sudden meant I couldn‘t come AND I couldn’t make other plans! Frankly, my T-Day sucked this year and I‘d like to have a nicer one next year.“ And then crucially, „what gives, was that a one off and do you guys still want to have a family T-Day with me going forward? Or are we changing the game?“

Being me, I predict they‘ll want to break the mould.

You could continue by asking some form of „So...I get the impression that maybe we‘ve been hanging out too much and you‘d rather dial it down a little?“

If it were me, that would be the crucial takeaway. But I don‘t know whether you‘ll get a straight answer, a lot of people will waffle around to not hurt your feelings. Or they‘ll see it as too much drama. Like, „OMG, we change our Thanksgiving routine ONCE and immediately we need to have a feelings-convo about the State of Our Friendship!“

But a really good friendship, which you thought it was, should be able to handle you saying, „your actions threw me for a loop and now I don‘t know if we‘re as close as I thought and I‘m anxious; please be honest?“

But, like I said, I‘m a terrible role model and would be silently resentful at them forever, so kudos to you!
posted by Omnomnom at 2:23 AM on November 17, 2018

(And now I just texted a friend who I was silently hurt at for two months an „hey I miss our chats, do you have time?“ text, so thank you for that AskMe!)
posted by Omnomnom at 2:45 AM on November 17, 2018 [8 favorites]

Best answer: One last thing (sorry for spamming): You‘ll be much more able to have a peaceful Thanksgiving if you know with rock hard certainty that you are going to address the issue afterwards. Whatever you do, DON‘T think about your friends. Push every mopey thought away with „This is going to be addressed after Thanksgiving. Now is not the time, jerkbrain. My job now is to have a good day (and this will help me be in a much better place to discuss things with my friends afterwards).“
posted by Omnomnom at 2:52 AM on November 17, 2018

This also comes down to all kinds of expectations about family and what family is supposed to do. And in many families it is entirely acceptable for adults to vary routines every now and then, I sometimes go on Xmas trips either alone or with friends and ditch the family. Some time between June and August I get asked about my plans, if I’ve not announced a trip, and whatever answer I give is acceptable.

It is not clear to me if there was a plan, that you all discussed with words, and they are changing that unilaterally without consideration for your logistical and financial constraints, or if you had assumed a plan. Changing an agreed plan at short notice is much more inconsiderate than there being a lot of assumptions and then they start to plan an actual thing at short notice, involving you, but it now turns out that particular plan does not work for you. Do they know enough about your finances and work schedule so you could reasonably expect them to anticipate that this would not be feasible for you? Do they know you can’t afford to go or did you just talk about work and the dog? The reason I ask that is because they may be able and willing to assist with that, if they knew that was the main problem. If this is something that has been under discussion for years but this is the first year it’s been feasible due to parents finally confirming that they are not going to come, this could well be a ‚we’ll all be together somewhere that is not our house’ plan and then they were surprised when it turned out that doesn’t work for you. That may be thoughtless but not callous. On the other hand, a bit more notice might have allowed you to save/make other arrangements.

So if this were me the only thing I‘d be upset about is the short notice, unless there was a plan that had been formulated with words and they are now changing that plan unilaterally and without discussion with you and you were only asked to tag along as an afterthought. It’s ok to be upset by a perceived slight like that, especially if this now makes you challenge the foundation of the relationship. But please get a bit of distance before addressing this with them, if there is a chance that there are other reasonable explanations about what happened here. And may I gently observe that you appear have lived in this area for a few years, yet these are the only people you’re comfortable spending the day with? Perhaps in time, try to grow your local community a bit?
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:17 AM on November 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

My sympathies. In your shoes, I'd be wanting to sort of take the temperature of the friendship. I don't like change either in this kind of situation and I'd be feeling wobbly about it.

How about planning for them to come to your place sometime between now and the end of the year? "Guys, I will be sad to miss our usual Thanksgiving celebration so let's have a Solstice dinner."
posted by BibiRose at 4:33 AM on November 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Like Omnomnom I'd be concerned that their action represents a cooling off, and like BibiRose I'd want to check the temperature.

But I'd also try to make room for the idea that it's not about me. You're really close but sometimes marriages have their own stories you aren't in on. Maybe they've been wanting to get away for months and try to recharge and have been too swamped with work and obligations and this is their one chance before the holidays - who knows. They have certain obligations to you but they also have obligations to their marriage, and sometimes the marriage will trump the friendship and you won't get to know why. It's hard - as a single person surrounded by friends who all have primary obligations that are not friendship with me (kids, aging parents, life callings, careers, partners) it's really hard.
posted by bunderful at 5:05 AM on November 17, 2018 [12 favorites]

If you had explicit plans for this year then it's a bit rude/thoughtless...but it might be that they are going through something they haven't shared with you. One example that comes to mind to mind for me is a miscarriage or fertility issues, just because my husband and I occasionally ran away from home when we were going through some of that.

Given that they invited you along though, I think feelings of abandonment are extreme and point to something that you might want to address for yourself. What strikes me in your post and your follow-up is that your language is really extreme. You call other invitations pity invites and hell, you call their change in plans "getting a better offer." To me that sounds like catastrophizing and I wonder what else is going on. Even with family, plans can change. I wonder what is going on that you are casting your best friends' actions as well as your circumstances in the worst possible light.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:35 AM on November 17, 2018 [27 favorites]

I second bunderful’s perspective here. You call your friends your “chosen family.” But it’s important to remember that you’re an adult, with agency, and no matter how many Thanksgivings in a row you’ve spent with your friends, they didn’t take you to raise. You’re not their dependent. I get that as a shy introvert you might feel especially bummed because you don’t believe you could happily attend someone else’s Thanksgiving celebration, although I would encourage you to challenge yourself in this regard. But you’re not being abandoned-youve said yourself you were invited along, you just can’t make it work this time. Your tone about the whole situation makes me wonder if this isn’t more about underlying painful feelings about your family of origin? It simply isn’t realistic to expect that a married couple would make a friend their primary consideration when planning holidays/travel every single year. I don’t agree that you need to tell your friends you feel hurt or excluded or abandoned, either. Find another way to discharge those feelings. I hope you’re able to enjoy the luxury of choosing how to spend free time on November 22. If you’re anywhere near Raleigh NC you are cordially invited to my house! I’m married to another MeFite and we would love to have you.
posted by little mouth at 5:45 AM on November 17, 2018 [20 favorites]

Best answer: So some of the other answers don't reflect a deep understanding of "chosen family." As someone who has that (we call each other 'framily', friends who are family), I get you. I would be deeply sad if my framily couldn't be together on Thanksgiving. We're so close that two separate family units come straight to our Thanksgiving after their own family Thanksgivings, like when married couples split the holiday between their families. We adjust the timing of the day so that everyone can make it.

That said, I also understand your friends' position. There may be mitigating circumstances to this trip that you're not privy too. As someone said above, they didn't abandon you, you just can't accept the intimation for valid reasons. It doesn't change how you feel, but perhaps it could change the way you frame your feelings. Don't tell them you feel abandoned. That will cause them to feel deeply guilty and then you'll feel bad for hurting them and then you're all in a vicious cycle of hurt. It's fine to tell them that you're sad that you can't join them on your special holiday this year because Reasons. That way you get to express your emotions but no one feels unduly bad afterward. Maybe make plans for a FaceTime or Skype call on the day, so you feel part of it and connected to them.

And maybe their vacillation about the whole trip is because they're worried about you and they really want to go but they also don't want to leave you. It would be such a kindness to suss that out with them. Sit down with them and tell them that of course you'd be sad to miss Thanksgiving with them but you understand that they want to do this and it's okay, you'll be okay, make plans for a chat on the day and plans for something fun when they get back.

They still love you. You'll be okay.
posted by cooker girl at 6:10 AM on November 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

For the sake of your own mental wellbeing, and your friendships - i don’t understand why, if you don’t want pity invites, you are favoriting answers to tell your friends, which would certainly make them feel guilty? Bringing that feeling out in your chosen family is not going to be cathartic, I think it will ultimately make you feel worse. I definitely think you can tell them that you are sad you won’t be spending the holiday together but don’t place the blame on them going out of town.

It seems 100% clear that you would be invited to the out of town event but you can’t go because of Reasons. I totally understand why you are feeling so shitty. Not being with the people you love most during the holidays is shitty. But you don’t have to be alone. Sometimes you just gotta adapt.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:37 AM on November 17, 2018 [15 favorites]

One thing also to keep in mind that I don't think has been touched on yet - you mentioned that sometimes your friends' parents visit for Thanksgiving, sometimes not. So this year, their parents aren't coming. That might not have much emotional resonance for you, but it's possible it matters to them that their parents aren't coming more than you are really getting a sense of.

Maybe they are sad when they can't be with their parents on Thanksgiving, and it makes them feel more alone, and that might play at least partially into the appeal of them being able to travel out to the other friend's Thanksgiving. It might also have something to do with the last minute nature of this plan. Maybe they are less shy than you are, and maybe they really do want to spend the holiday with additional people?

This is just me guessing here, but thinking about their feelings might help take some of the weight off of how much this decision has to do with you. I wonder if it might also help to remind yourself that there is the possibility that maybe you can go to this other friend's Thanksgiving in the future since it sounds like there is a standing invitation to that every year.
posted by wondermouse at 7:09 AM on November 17, 2018 [8 favorites]

Best answer: You don't mean any less to them than you thought. Thanksgiving means less to them than you thought. To you it is a big deal, to them it is a nice meal shared with people they love. They don't realize that missing it is significant to you. I know lots of people who skip Thanksgiving, do something different every year, etc.

People have very different feelings about Thanksgiving and rituals in general--this is NOT a referendum on you, and they might not even realize how much you treasure *this particular expression* of friendship. But it's NOT about the friendship at all.

I think it will help talk to them if you take that assumption when you approach them. You know they love you, but they don't know how much you care about this particular ritual.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:44 AM on November 17, 2018 [7 favorites]

Is this the same best friend who had a baby in the spring? Because children change everything.
posted by kimberussell at 9:16 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes, we had plans that we had talked about with words and everything. For the record, it went basically like this (paraphrased): Her: hey, we’re thinking about going to [place] for Thanksgiving. What time do you work Friday? Me: 2 Her: Oh, we’ll we’d want to hang around longer Friday than that. Would you want to go if you had to drive down by yourself and leave right away in the morning? You’d also have to get your own place to stay; the air bnb I found only has one bedroom. Me: That doesn’t work because Reasons. But it would suck to have to spend Thanksgiving alone. Her: I figured. We’re seriously considering going anyway. Me: ...

I favorited people who seem to understand that it’s not really about the meal, and that these particular friends are family, not just friends.

Anyway, I do appreciate the other perspectives. The one about Thanksgiving not meaning as much to them vs me not meaning that much to them is probably true.
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:26 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

You say you had plans already but if the conversation you paraphrased is the extent of the discussion about your plans for thanksgiving, it doesn't sound to me like you've been cancelled on at all.

Three hours doesn't seem long enough to merit staying the night; is it possible you could drive there and back on thanksgiving? Obviously not everyone likes driving, but maybe this could be an option. Can your dog stay at home if you spend 4 hours at thanksgiving? (Most dogs can be alone for 10 hours or so, even if it's not ideal, it's certainly common where I live). Can you get a dog walker or sitter? Can you practice longer trips with the dog before next week or see the vet for any advice? Can you stay with the hosts of this event?
posted by love2potato at 10:06 AM on November 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

I really really feel for you because I'm also extremely sensitive and love Thanksgiving and didn't live near any family for a while. But...I think you're overreacting. I'm so sorry. Their decision isn't about you, it's about them. They're allowed to be selfish sometimes. Maybe 7 years of tradition was enough for them and they're ready for a break. Maybe they want some time together just the two of them. Maybe they're planning on having kids and the next Thanksgiving would be different anyway! You want your friends to be charitable to you, so please give them the benefit of your charity here: pretend they have very valid reasons for switching it up this year that have nothing to do with you. Things don't stay the same forever. It sucks. This is a chance at starting your own new tradition that doesn't involve them, then next year you'll be ready no matter what happens. Happy Thanksgiving!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 10:32 AM on November 17, 2018 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: The conversation I paraphrased was the (potential, still don’t actually know) changing of plans. The plans were talked about before.

I do appreciate the thought, but again, I’m not looking for help with the logistics of the meal. I can’t go. They might. I don’t want to have dinner with someone else’s family because I find meeting new people stressful (especially families, where I feel like I have to be on my best behavior). I can and will cook my own meal (joke title notwithstanding; even if I’m alone I’ll still make the stuff I love) and it’ll be okay, if not ideal.

The thing that upset me was the last minute canceling of plans that made me feel like I don’t matter. I’ve been struggling with feeling like I don’t matter in other parts of my life right now, so I’m probably over sensitive to that at the moment. So, again, thank you for the suggestions, but it’s not about the meal. It’s about the emotions.
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:34 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

And sometimes, even if you do express how much it means to you, they might need to make a different choice for themselves. I had to skip our big family Thanksgiving after I had a baby. The baby was two weeks old, and I was out and about just fine in town, but I did not feel up for a 45 minute drive and a large group of people and a bunch of the specific things (that I usually LOVE) that go with Thanksgiving.

This really hurt my sister. She was excited to have the baby there (she's childfree and was very excited to be an aunt), she was cooking, Thanksgiving is important to us. She didn't understand why--there would be plenty of people to help with the baby (people I trust and who make me feel comfortable and loved). I knew she was hurt, but I had to do it anyway. I was a tired, hormonal mess and could not do it.

That was a case with a Real Reason, but sometimes you just have to take care of yourself, even if your closest loved ones have to take a small blow in the process, and even if you can't quite explain it to them.

I'm not saying this is exactly the case, but just to emphasize that even if, with all the information about your feelings, they make the same choice, it doesn't mean they love you less. It might mean you have a shitty day, but it's a bump in the road.
posted by gideonfrog at 10:44 AM on November 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

What do you want from them? Just to be heard? Something else? What would make you feel valued?


“I’m feeling really sensitive because [x, y, z] and the prospect of spending Thanksgiving alone is really daunting to me right now. I want you guys to have a good time but this change in plans is really hitting me hard and I’m feeling overwhelmed. [what you want from them]. I’ve really loved having Thanksgiving with you in the past and I’m not trying to make this a Thing but I didn’t want to keep it from you either, you know?””
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:03 PM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, and I mean this gently, consider whether these particular friends may be feeling burnt out or overwhelmed by the stuff you have going on right now. When our close friends go though difficult times it can be really stressful because we care so much. This may be a way for them to have some time/space. I know that’s hurtful to think about, but it’s worth trying to consider the overall health of the relationship and whether they’d benefit from you shifting some of your bigger emotions towards a different outlet. Therapy, maybe, or even just other friends.

When I was going through something difficult last year, I really relied on one friend and he was really vicariously stressed. I didn’t realize it until we got into a fight about it. It wasn’t that he didn’t care, it was the opposite. He cared a lot and that made it hard for him to be my only support. Just something to consider.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:10 PM on November 17, 2018 [7 favorites]

Best answer: For me there's not enough information in the OP to judge this. Because, yes, as a lot of posters are saying, the bare facts of this are reasonably frustrating, but also forgivable and understandable. But the potential for pain in a last minute Thanksgiving bail is huge. What's not clear to me is how the friends delivered the news, and what empathy they have shown. For me this would be the biggest sticking point: if my close friends (who I had turkeyd with for 6 years running) told me "oh hey we're thinking of not doing Thanksgiving but we'll let you know" I'd be pretty dang hurt. But if they expressed it in a way that made clear they understood how potentially shitty it would be for me, if they checked in on if maybe I could find another place for the meal if I couldn't make the travel, if they explained why this felt like the right move for them etc. then I would feel much better. Still sad, but I'd see that they were taking me and my feelings into account.

I absolutely think you can talk to them about this. The potential for long term damage to a relationship in a situation like this is huge -- trust takes a hit, and all the questions that enter into this silence. Talk to them because yeah they just might have different expectations for Thanksgiving in general, and it's better to know that then not know that. Talk to them because couples sometimes can be pretty clueless about the experience of being single. Talk to them because Thanksgiving is super important to you and sitting on that means they'll be in relationship with a lie. Talk to them because how will you feel next year if you don't? And talk to them because true friendship is built on seeing each other as we are.
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:31 PM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oookay, the impression I get here is that you are feeling abandoned by your "family," who have kind of indicated by their actions that you don't count as "family" to them in the same way that they do to you. They didn't prioritize you first in changing their holiday plans, and that sucks. I also think it's kind of crap to not tell you one way or the other this last minute in life, either. Like they're going to decide Wednesday not to go and oh, yeah, can you make some last minute pie? I somehow doubt that. So I'm not feeling super awesome about your so-called "family" here anyway.

Unfortunately, not everyone is actually your family--especially when it comes to "adoptive" friend families like this, which don't always last, especially if folks are married and/or have children and thus have "real" families. You aren't as much of a priority to them as they are to you. You've just found that out and it really sucks. You're right to feel hurt about this and once you find out some kind of revelation about someone like this, it needs to change how you feel about them.

Honestly, I don't know how to tell you anything to help you. I'm not sure if "talking it out" to them about how badly your feelings are hurt will make that better for you. You've found out something shitty about how they don't feel as strongly about you as you do about them, or you're not "family" enough to prioritize. They have the right to decide to do whatever they want at the holidays, including not include you. What can you do? Ask them not to leave you? Say that you feel butthurt and abandoned and sad? Guilt them into staying? I feel like having that conversation would guilt them into staying, and you say you don't want that. I don't know how to make them make you feel like you matter. That has to be on their initiative. I cannot for the life of me think of a way to tell them how you feel without them feeling guilty. I kind of think they SHOULD feel guilty, but there really isn't a way for that not to happen. Either you tell them how you feel and they feel guilty, or you suck it up and not say anything.

In the end, I think you have to take in this information, feel hurt and sad, and then get used to the idea. Your so-called Thanksgiving "family" isn't so much. You figure out what you can do for yourself on a solo Thanksgiving (others have given good suggestions on that), and you lower your expectations of those people in the future. Don't count on them to make you feel valued. I'm sorry you feel bad about the holidays, but having kinda been there except with my blood relatives (don't get me started on "family" there), acceptance is the only way for me. Don't count on others and do your own thing.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:41 PM on November 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

In some families it's a Big Deal when a holiday routine changes and in some families it's pretty normal for people to make last minute plans or changes and assume you'll all catch back up later. It sounds like you have different approaches to the idea of holiday and traditions. Perhaps you've been lucky to have smooth sailing thus far, but I wonder too if this dynamic has come up in your relationship before -that you sometimes feel a little abandoned or left out. I think it's a pretty common dynamic even in good friend/family relationships for one party to feel like 'the old reliable' sometimes while the other party is more likely to branch out on their own more often.

It's totally okay to be hurt and wallow in it for awhile, but IME that's exactly what you have to do and work on radical acceptance that this is who they are, and that might be different from you, and they still love you.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:17 PM on November 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Mod note: A couple deleted. Folks, a) we need to move away from making this a back and forth discussion. OP has offered enough information to get some useful advice, and they don't need to be grilled on this. B) Also, please refrain from "quoting" what they've posted using completely different phrasing to make it sound ridiculous.; this is not how to give actual helpful input. C) Ask Me is for trying to help each other out; if you cannot do that, it's fine, but please pass on the question; don't come in just to be insulting.
posted by taz (staff) at 9:29 PM on November 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

A bunch of people have touched on the issue of "chosen family" - I just wanted to chime in with my with my own experience that even with our biological families, Thanksgiving is always kind of up in the air until a week or a few days before depending on who can host, who wants to host, how we are feeling, who is available, etc. Some years we celebrate with my in-laws, some years with my family of origin, some years we have a Friendsgiving instead (if our parents are away or working) or in addition to. So it's not a given that family always celebrates Thanksgiving together in a specific way every year, and maybe with your friends, they thought that too? That it's just a good opportunity for them to travel and see their out-of-own friend, given that they already see you all the time, living right next door.
posted by spicytunaroll at 8:44 PM on November 18, 2018 [6 favorites]

The situation is a bummer, but this is not about you. Your friends are likely going away for a long weekend, you were invited but you can't go. No one is abandoning you! This is not a reflection on your value to them as a person! There's no need to say anything except for "I'm disappointed that I can't go- have fun and let's catch up when you're back."
posted by emd3737 at 10:47 PM on November 18, 2018 [7 favorites]

In case it's not suggested upthread maybe the following weekend you could have a Friendsgiving with them just because this tradition means a lot to you. Thursday is special, but not *that* special.
posted by theora55 at 11:19 AM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hope your Thanksgiving wasn't too bad ❤️
posted by masquesoporfavor at 12:53 PM on December 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

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