When adult children aren’t speaking to parents: Eating alone

when adult children aren't speaking to parents

Eating alone: When adult children aren’t speaking to parents

By Sheri McGregor

When adult children aren’t speaking to parents, holidays can be especially painful, partly because of lost mealtime traditions. Recently, several parents have told me they will be eating alone. Most aren’t looking forward to the experience, yet they’re planning ways to make the best of their solitary dining experience.

These parents’ plans remind me of a poem called Table For One. I can’t remember the exact words or who wrote it, but I do remember the care with which the loner served himself. The specific lines escape me, but the feeling remains, the way it moved me to see another way of daily life that, at the time, was so foreign to me.

Wanting to share the self-care embedded in that haunting poem, I searched for the poem but found only others by the same and similar titles. I also found lots of talk about eating by oneself—most of it telling people we shouldn’t. That’s not so helpful when adult children aren’t speaking to parents, which sometimes creates other family divisions. But eating alone isn’t all negative news. Dining solo, whether for the holidays or every day, has its positive points.

When adult children aren’t speaking to parents: Eating your way

Many parents tell me they’ve come to value the quieter holiday times. They may cook a full-on meal for themselves, enjoying the traditional recipes they love and leaving out the ones they don’t. Dominique, a widow with one daughter who is estranged, says, “I don’t miss having to make her favorites.” With a laugh, she adds, “I don’t miss the big cleanup while she sat on her tuchus either.”

Barbara has come to enjoy her right to choose the menu, too. She plans to cook a turkey breast in her crock pot this year, adding sweet potatoes right in with the bird. “It’s what I want and it’s healthy,” she explains. She’ll toss a green salad and also enjoy dessert—but keep the splurge sensible. “I sliced and froze a pumpkin cheesecake. I’ll thaw a piece and save the rest for special treats.” Her plan is a far cry from the over-stuffing that’s so often a part of family gatherings. Eating alone allows for better portion control, some studies report. And when you’re the chef, pushing away from the table doesn’t disappoint the cook.

Eating alone: The adventure

When adult children aren’t talking to parents, eating alone can become routine. For some, throwing something on a paper plate and nuking it in the microwave, eating fast food, or munching while watching TV can become the norm. But mindless eating is associated with cardiovascular disease and weight gain. Avoid that by making solo meals self-care. Some parents tell me they light candles, set the table up nice, and drink from a crystal glass. They know that eating—alone or in groups—is one of life’s pleasures.

Whether you use cloth napkins or paper ones, mindful eating (link) helps you savor your food. Eating can be such a rich experience when we consider textures, flavors, and how different foods make us feel. Lately, my favorite breakfast is organic oatmeal with a sliced banana and a dollop of plain yogurt. Sometimes, I’ll add a handful of blackberries, raisins, or sprinkle cinnamon over top. With the right attitude, food is like medicine—only fun.

Eating alone: Sad or stimulating?

One mother of three estranged sons says she’s spent holidays in restaurants by herself in the past. “I didn’t enjoy those meals,” she says of the awkward feeling of sitting alone with her gaze lowered in shame while, all around her, families made merry. This year, having finally admitted the truth of her sons’ brutality toward her, she says, “I’m done.” No more hoping, wishing, and chasing. This life is hers to live.

She reserved a table for one at a nearby Inn and plans to go with an open mind. By holding her head high, maybe she’ll notice others who are on their own, and therefore feel less alone. The odds are she will see others who have ventured out alone. In 2020, one in nine Americans spent the holiday season all by themselves. If nothing else, without the distraction of eating companions, she can share a few words with and brighten the plight of the server—who will be spending the holiday at work.

Another woman, whose two daughters want nothing to do with her, will dine at a farm-to-table restaurant she has been wanting to try. The restaurant, which serves local and in-season foods, is owned by a local couple whose son is a culinary genius. They made a point of advertising to solo eaters for the holidays. “They have family style tables with benches,” she says. “Along with the award-winning food, I’m looking forward to seeing who they seat me with.” Never mind that the chef went to high school with her daughters. “If he or his folks recognize me, I’ll tell the truth about why I’m alone,” she says. “It’s been almost six years, and I’m tired of covering up for abusers, even if they are my flesh and blood.”

In my books, I help parents to recognize and leverage their unique brand of resilience, partly derived from their own history, for the issues that crop up in estrangement.  DeeDee, a retired military officer who now has two adopted children who are estranged, provides a good example. In her career, she spent many holidays by herself. Although usually invited into others’ homes, she says, “It often felt better to be alone than in someone else’s crowd.” DeeDee recalls the year she was stationed on the island of Guam as most memorable. “I bought a plane ticket and flew to Saipan for the weekend.” Once there, she rented a car and drove all over the island exploring the WWII sites. After a long and interesting day, she ate a solo Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel. She says, “It’s all about mindset.”

Before the pandemic, one father who’s estranged from his two sons took a steamboat dinner cruise each Thanksgiving. He says he was always surprised to see other lonely ones. After two years off, he’s looking forward to this year’s event. “Mostly, the singles like me all eat while looking at our tablets and phones,” he says. “We’re alone but we’re also together.” This year, he plans to try striking up some conversations. “The pandemic lockdowns taught me how important face-to-face small talk really is. I’m rusty like so many people are, but we can’t spend the time we have left isolated and living in fear.”

Eating together, even alone, all around the globe

In my work with estranged parents and through this site, I count myself blessed to hear from lovely people all around the world. Some have exchanged friendly emails with me from time to time over the years, and food is frequently a way to connect. One woman living in Japan sends me gorgeous photos of interesting and appetizing foods, served on colorful dinnerware at her table set beautifully for one. Another mom shares YouTube videos where cooks demonstrate making easy, healthful foods. One woman writes me from her cozy home in the countryside, telling me about her simple, yummy creations: whole grain toast drizzled with honey, toasted, slivered almonds atop creamy bananas, or organic, ready-made soups.

We all have to eat, and some of us alone. Let’s share ways we enjoy meals, even when we’re on our own. Leave a comment to this article about where you’ll go or what you’ll cook. How do you make eating enjoyable? Healthy? Fun?

As an alternative, find a poem, essay, or other creative work that relates to solo dining. Provide the link, and share what you liked about it, how you can relate, or why the words, art, music, or other creative work moves you. I’ll start: Like the father mentioned earlier, many people learned to eat alone because of the pandemic. Some people hunched over a door-dashed meal or smeared peanut butter on bread and called it a day. Others learned new recipes in cooking classes delivered via Zoom to people from far flung regions. In this essay, called “Food for Thought,” the writer savored not only her food but her memories, which touched me in their honesty, innocence, and joy. (I especially liked the part from childhood and the Seder.)

When adult children aren’t speaking to parents, they tear a ragged hole in traditions that once brought the family close. We can come up with new ideas, and I am always thankful for your comments. Your innovative perspectives and caring can help another parent to feel less alone. Bon appetit.

Related Reading

For parents of estranged adults: Can Thanksgiving be a time of harvest?

Thanksgiving for hurting parents

Eight steps to mindful eating

The amount eaten in meals is a power function in humans of the number of people present

Spontaneous meal patterns of humans: influence of the presence of other people


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64 thoughts on “When adult children aren’t speaking to parents: Eating alone

  1. Dawn L.

    Hi Everyone-All deserve a big hug. We spent Thanksgiving with our son and future DIL. It went quite badly, worse than last year, when we had first met her. Last year they got mad at me for saying how much I missed my son several times and she was playing on her phone when I was talking to her. This year they are engaged and DIL made a big deal out of me going to dress appts to help pick out the wedding dress but her and her family froze me out of the appt. by going with out telling me the Sat. after Thanksgiving. When they were here on Turkey Day, she basically ignored me and sat away from me at the table at our house where we always sit next to each other.
    I busted my ass making everything. She only talked to my son excluding me and my husband and then only talked to my husband. It has made me feel sick. Then Sat. she sent me pictures of her dress and her family at the dress salon. My son makes excuses for her saying things like, she forgot to take her meds
    Thursday and/or she had to use the bathroom. I confronted him on these excuses on Friday when he made them. They are very poor excuses at that. He hinted earlier in the week that something was going on and he offered to take me shopping sometime but I didn’t get it. My future DIL and I were getting along pretty good and talking and texting and I made sure she felt part of the family and loved by me.
    I do not know what happened. I am pretty sure it’s not me . I have bent over backwards for her. And my son can tell that her behavior is wrong and knows how much I’ve tried for them both but he takes her side and that of her mother-who he has told me he doesn’t really like and who uses him. My husband never takes my side until the situation is so ridiculously apparent that he has to say something or he
    will look bad. How disgusting my situation is. And my heart is broken by the people I care about. How does one get over this shit?

    1. Dawn L.

      Hi Betty-Thanks for replying. What happened with you and yours? It’s absolutely devastating and no one will ever admit to anything. Gaslighting at it’s finest. And then the wacky excuses… What happened to candor and the truth.

    2. Betty

      Dawn L., My son married a mean girl, he made lame excuses at first for her behavior, then to bond closer with her he joined in the game too. I have to remind myself why would I want mean people in my life? A son is a son until he takes a wife is true in my case.

    3. TR

      Dawn said “what happened to candor and the truth”. My experience with my similar DIL is that you’ll never hear the truth because these young ladies still behave like middle schoolers. The truth is most likely that she doesn’t want you around. My son often told me “O is all about family”. Fortunately I bit my lip and did not respond “honestly” with “Yes I know, she’s all about HER family”. Get used to the distance, I wish you peace.

    4. Dawn L.

      T.R. Thanks for replying, I appreciate it. It is all about her family. How do you bite your lip all the time?
      It is a lot of stress and hurt.

  2. Donna

    So, it took me ’til today to write this but Thanksgiving didn’t go well. 🙁

    It seemed to be. Day was going nicely. I was even getting along with son-in-law. We were having a good time. Then, two things happen.

    First, if you recall, she comes every few weeks to help me with groceries which I do appreciate. But… she just got a new job and they got a new apartment. New apartment actually puts them two hours closer to me. Son-in-law told me. He probably wasn’t supposed to because then out of nowhere, my daughter whammies me with we’re going to have to delay next trip or you’re going to have to help pay for it. (She has to rent gas car beause her electric doesn’t have the range necessary.)

    Couple of things on that: First when I freaked out about them moving out of state saying what am I going to do, there was every assurance that she’d still come every week with groceries. There was anger when I protested she wasn’t being realistic about that. I insisted on more realism and we negoiated the three weeks, she wanted to do two. Secondly, I feel like why should I have to pay them to come see me when they left over my objections? So now you’re only going to see me if I fund your renting a car and pay for the gas for you to get here? (BTW, I had advised her against buying an electric vehicle for this very reason as well as if repairs are needed, they cost way more and they aren’t really any greener, in fact, they’re worse for the environment than fossil fuel due to the caustic chemicals and rarer materials that go into making them.) This is grossly unfair to make me pay to see them when they – sorry but I feel this way – abandoned me. And abandoned me knowing I was somewhat dependent on them. (I’ve posted before that I don’t know what I’m going to do as I can’t afford assisted living and I still don’t.) So now you want to charge your mother? Swell, just swell. Also, why didn’t you say this before getting the groceries (on my card, including our mutual dinner) so I could have ordered another week’s worth?

    Secondly after dinner, saving dessert for when grandson came from his other grandmother’s, we were watching our Thanksgiving tradition of Miracle of 34th Street, the original 1947 version. I’ve literally watched this with my daughter on Thanksgiving since she was a toddler. First the cable channels would play it, then I got it on VHS and now, of course, it’s on Amazon’s streaming service, free to prime members. Two things happened here. First, I remarked that it was our Thanksgiving tradition and she gaslit me again saying it was, since when. I replied only your entire childhood. It was always on TV and we always watched it. Then I got the VHS and we watched it. (She’ll be 40 in January.) No, I’m not crazy. We did. Stop with the gaslighting.

    Secondly, we laughed at the scene where Kris Kringle is informed that Macy’s wants him to be examined by their psychiatrist and he says no problem and parodies psych evals he’s well used to, including the question who was the first President. We all laughed as we always do. i had had a recent trip to the ER with an infection. I’m now at that age (going on 65) where they’ll annoyingly check you for senility without even asking permission by asking questions you’d best answer or else. I said no lie, the ER asked me who the President is. My daughter looked at me and said who’d you say.

    I bristled, Biden, what else would I say? I can’t believe you asked that. You know I’m not senile. That was bad enough but we had to pause the movie for her to pick up grandson from the other grandmother’s. When he gets in and we settle down after greeting him and asking afer his father’s family with pie and the rest of the movie (he’s 19 and so has seen it at least 19 times since we DO play it every Thanksgiving) and laughingly told him of the ER too. He did the exact same thing as his mother and asked who did you say? I was like what do you people think I’m going to say? Why would you think I’m going to say anything other than Biden? They tried to cover with they knew I don’t like BIden. So? He’s still the President so why would I answer any differently. This one has me really scratching my head and worries me that they might be out to label me senile or something.

    I don’t know what to do. I told my daughter on the beg for money well if worse comes to worse, I can have groceries delivered. She got insulted and said well I want to see you too. I said of course I wanted to see her but if she couldn’t come out, I had to think of what I will do. She said she’d text about it and we’d discuss it then. Hasn’t yet but it’s only been two days. Cross fingers. I’m kind of so not going to be the one to come crawling and ask her.

    I’m really upset that they both treated me this way. Makes no sense. If they really are worried I’m senile (so not!) why would they leave me unattended? If they are planning to try and put me in a home – which I’m frankly scared they are at this point so will probably consult a lawyer to protect myself – why wouldn’t they have done it beore leaving state? I have been afraid that they were going to use money as an excuse to stop visiting. Starting to look that way frankly.

    I remain jealous of my friend across the hall whose daughter visits her twice a day – morning and evening to make sure she’s alright. Lucky woman.

  3. Jmn

    So I went to the hotel to talk to her this morning and she had called her Father to come get her. I’m not sure why she thinks things are so bad here but I have griped alot lately is the only reason and I wouldn’t let my grandkids come here for Thanksgiving they don’t like me and today I’m not so sure my oldest child understands how tired of being hurt by her kids and her. I love them but they have been picking other grandparents for awhile now. I’m so upset today I can hardly think everything time I make room for her in my life the second I don’t give her what she wants she leaves it drives me up the wall but I miss her when she gone. How crazy this sounds I’m just at my wits end. I love my kids alot but I just feel wore out not loved by them ! I appreciate your letting me share this with you I just feel so alone sometimes because I been a single mom for such a long time.

  4. Jmn

    Grown adults with brain injuries are not so much fun my adult daughter was hurt back in 2019 with a ruptured brain aneurysm and other medical conditions she has just been so hard to deal with I can’t take it anymore but then I think of her having to face life all on her own and what will come of her she is still in so much denial that she has to have help to think we spent years before that distant and always tolerating each other behavior’s so our relationship has not been that great since she was about 8 years old. She breaks my heart for a little over 30 years now but when she had the brain injury I tried to be there so she wouldn’t have to face this tragedy alone I had to raise her all over again she couldn’t walk talk eat drink or bath herself it was a difficult time for both of us but I think the hardest and saddest thing besides the injury’s was that everyone she associated with including her own kids ditched her and went on living their lives like nothing mattered she lost everyone she loved her home her mate her father and his wife everyone she cherished close to her and then there was me her Mom she told me she hated me more than any person she knew and that when I would come to visit her that she would cringe when I would come to her home silly me I believe what the doctors said that it was because of her brain injury that she was treating me with such cruelty but then I remembered that she hadn’t been very kind before either. I used to think it was because of our divorce so I tried to fix her relationship with her father and his wife got in the way and destroyed my realtionship with my kid and my grandchildren and the relationship I had with him and his family. When she was in the hospital of course everyone was saying how sorry they were and how they would never hurt her again but the second they thought she was better all them disappeared because they didn’t want to take care of her she has tried several times bouncing back and forth between my home and her father’s home but usually ending up at my home where she absolutely with no mistake hates more than any place on earth I’m not lying to myself anymore after this Thanksgiving for the last 3years my daughter has been using me for a place to stay because no one else wants her around I knew it was true the day she got out of the hospital because she wanted to live with her father near her kids but they don’t want to take care of her. I have tried to give her a home but we don’t get along very well and she goes behind my back with her father and kids alot she even trusts her x more than me and even told me that living under a bridge would be better than living with me I am not a perfect mom but I have been there her whole life every time she has needed me but I get tired of her treatment sometimes because she wants me to buy and pay for all her needs even though she has SSI money now which has been a total nightmare because her kids and x and father want to rule her money. I don’t need her help or her money never have but I have tried to help her since the accident so she can put money in savings for a future when she can live on her own again and there has been so many doctors and sadness because she doesn’t want to live with me that it just gets to me sometimes but when I try to get her to help me I become the worst person in her world again I tried to teach her that it takes money to live that just because I’m her parent she should not expect me to pay her way all the time especially now since I am no longer working but every time she had to buy something she some how makes me spend that much or more money the next time I have asked her to stop doing this because I can’t afford it but she just says I’m a physco and that she hasn’t done anything but I know she has been manipulative behavior before with alot of people . The last 3 years her and my grandchildren have destroyed my holidays for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They let me buy food cook it set down to eat with me and then left me alone every year on Thanksgiving and Christmas and they went straight her father’s house and told him and his wife alot stuff that wasn’t true. Last year her kids didn’t even bother to call her in Thanksgiving so I texted them and made plans for them to see her at Christmas which was another mistake they didn’t like it. So I didn’t let them come to my home this year to see her and the fight was on two days before Thanksgiving and then she made me believe that we had gotten through but then she manipulated my money again and I got upset and gripped again asking her to stop treating me this way. She said I just thought I was better than them and I always had she was mad still because I wouldn’t let the kids come to Thanksgiving so she was trying to punish me it made me mad and we agruged all the way home after the movie and then she comes home packs her bag and says she leaving and this time she isn’t coming back that she tried of listening to me grip and I told her stop manipulating me and that was our problem not her living here , I told her this was stupid for her to leave on a rainy cold day and walk to a hotel at night but she wouldn’t listen to anything I said and left and went to the hotel. This the second time she has rented a room this week because of this her kids couldn’t come to Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t let them because I’m tired of having to everything to please get and her kids during the holidays and never being appreciated for it I either don’t give them enough money or the gifts are nicer or something they hate me because I’m not rich like her father who dishes out money so they don’t have to deal with them. I’m so tired of them thinking it’s okay to be this way to someone who has been taking care of them I can hardly stand to be around them anymore. I try to forgive them but no matter what you do it’s never enough or good enough. But let the other parent or grandparents buy or do something and they think they bought the world. I’m not jealous I’m tried of trying to have a relationship with people that clearly don’t really care what I feel on the inside it’s always about them. I love them but I don’t want to have my whole life being about just them and what they need all the time. I’m not sure how to say this gently so I’m just going to say it I’m not sure why my daughter doesn’t want a better life and it’s not because I haven’t tried to help her but I’m so very tired of being told that I’m the reason for her unhappiness. I had a good meal and a good movie but then it all fell apart like it had the last three years. I kinda wish I had just spent it alone at least then I wouldn’t have to feel this way! Hope all of yours was tons happier than mine .,just can’t wait till Christmas!,.

  5. Carrie-Ann

    Beautiful Beloved Dear Ones,
    Thank You…
    I Am With You In Spirit…
    May Beautiful Sheri, Each One of You,
    as well as Each Estranged Adult Child,
    All Animal, Plant, & Mineral Beings of Air, Land & Water, Planet Earth & the World,
    Be Blessed In Body, Mind, & Spirit…
    Enjoy the Gift of Each Moment of This Precious Life…
    In Gratitude & Friendship,
    *May You Enjoy the following:
    *Gratitude: The Short Film by Louie Schwartzberg (6:21min.)

  6. JenniH

    For once I am not going to mention my personal situation and just say that it is really bugging me that no one is ever definitively resolving this in any manor. You hear either one side or the other and I cringe every time I see an article or meme telling people to “cut out the toxic family members”, because those are our kids and we are not the toxic one, but there is this widespread validation and need to support abuse victims that makes everyone accept the story of the one in front of them, and I hate to think of how many have been told they were abused and never were, as in ‘there must be a reason you feel this way, so let’s blame your parents.’ Nevermind the behavior problems they suffered through, or the abusive child, everyone has decided all children are innocent and everything is the parents fault because their child is a product of their environment, i.e. your raising, but failing to consider the external environment that has affected them. When you are divorced, you have someone affecting your kids and have no control over what or how or when, and if they are “toxic”, you know, I am not going to entertain their terminology anymore, what we really mean is EVIL, but that adds a Biblical aspect that is quickly being eliminated, but if your ex is evil you are no longer going to have an effect because this world is made for the evil-doers to prosper, and the rest of us are just screwed. Not to mention school, which used to seem like such a great neutral environment for learning and has quickly become a politicized method of indoctrinating our youth into this industrial juggernaut, where your worth is entirely based upon the size of your bank account. There needs to be a rehabilitation of the mental health field to quit this desire to validate and instead build on family and unconditional love. Yeah, not everyone struck it rich in the gene pool, but we have what we have, and we were given who we were given for a reason. Separating people from their families, takes them from their natural link to society, as in people who think like them, and have experiences more similar to eachother than anyone else, we need our families to get through this life, listening to our elders who have experience, not our peers or therapists that have no vested interest in our future and our children’s future, and our children’s children’s futures. People need to know that not everything that seems negative is “abuse”, and that validation does not help anything but a selfish society, where everyone is out for themselves and only themselves. A very damaging part of that is this thing they call “self love”, which is in a sense an oxymoron, but in a sense a redundancy too, because LOVE in true definition is all about how we feel about and treat others. To have love we must have someone to give it to, it is not about self esteem or self care. But then there is the fact that we all have to have self care or we would not be here, we would not survive, so it goes without saying that we like ourselves or we would not feed ourselves.

    1. Effie

      New generation of words… Toxic ( biblically evil I agree) 2 timothy says it all. I have been destroyed at the words abusive… I didnt let my son go on a road trip when he was 17, I did not have liquor in my home, and I was strict on tv. I will forever have to live with those things.. I am sure there is /something else… They just wont tell me what it was.. love and prayers to all you that are hurting today.

  7. Lisa B

    My oldest daughter and I are estranged from her younger sister. Its painful. But with therapy & your books we are healing. We focus on mindfulness and gratitude. Each year is getting easier. This is the first year we look genuinely excited to celebrate the holidays. We are making a dinner for My oldest daughter, My fiancée and I. We have plans to put the other holiday decorations early, watch movies and really enjoy our week. We do wish things were different but we refuse to suffer and not enjoy the life that is right in front of us.

  8. M.

    It’s been seven years since I’ve heard from y ED and two grandchildren. To all of you who are new to the estrangement experience just know that I’ve always been so grateful to have connected with Sheri McGregor. Her educational materials for all of us and always the words of encouragement help us all to keep moving forward!! Thanksgiving is just another day on the calendar, I no longer dwell on the past, only today and the future. I’ve created new solo traditions that have become very fulfilling. Wishing you all strength – one hour/day/week/year at a time. Virtual Hugs!

  9. Mickey M.

    It has been three years since my only son has spoken to me…’he does not want to know when I die’. In a few days I turn 75 and I decided I will take my neighbor out for my birthday dinner. She helps me so much…takes me down town for shopping or sometimes to appointments and she checks on me when I am ill. A perfect neighbor/friend. I enjoy moments in my life now and ignore my broken heart. I don’t mention my son anymore because it makes people wonder why he isn’t in my life or why I don’t go to visit him anymore..I focus on others and live a simple spartan life.

  10. Kristine M.

    Seemingly unlike many of you- I have chosen to distance myself from my daughter. She & her husband have threatened physical violence in the past, stolen from me, locked me out of our hotel after midnight, & a few years ago refused to let me camp on their couch, while I had been evacuated from my home for 19 days, due to the Caldor Fire in California. I ended up tent camping on a church grounds with about 150 other Fire Refugees. The smoke Air Quality Index was between 451-500 the entire time. I ended up going to the hospital & getting on inhalers to breathe. Im 57 yrs old, dont smoke, never had asthma- but those weeks in a tent in a smoke filled church yard, did permanent damage to my lungs.
    There are other abusive incidents with my daughter- & for years i protected her reputation & never told family. (My siblings live in the midwest.)
    But after the Caldor Fire incident- I stopped protecting her.
    She has Never apologized for anything. She had a Very Loving & Happy Childhood. I believe she has Borderline Personality Disorder,( I’m a therapist by trade.), and I have compassion for her & her illness, but I will never allow her to ruin another Holiday for me, or Abuse, threaten or humiliate me again.
    For her part she lies to me and everyone else- & lies about me. I don’t trust her at all. She would have me over for Thanksgiving most likely, but she would Also just as likely- spit in my food & laugh while I ate it. I Kidd you not! She is incredibly cruel.
    I havent decided whether i will ever resume any sort of contact with her. She is not safe for me. Initially I cried my eyes out about her behavior- but anymore it just feels like relief not to deal with her.
    & while my situation may be a little diff then some- it sure helps to know we are not Alone! Plus- We didnt Do it! Our kids have problems.
    I am thankful for Sheri & that we all have a space to talk abt this painful stuff.
    Big Thanksgiving Hugs to all my fellow parents! We are stronger than we know. Much Love!

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Kristine,

      You’re not as different as you think. There are many, many parents who have come to realize their adult children are dangerous to them. They are distancing themselves because they know they must … to save themselves, protect a vulnerable spouse or parent or another child. There are many reasons or a multitude at once.

      Your statements here will help others to be strong, make conclusions for themselves, recognize brutality, and feel less alone.

      Hugs to you dear, Kristine. I hope you’re in a better situation since those horrible fire evacuation days.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Donna

      We all have unique situations. I’m not yet estranged yet, just lessened. My daughter’s been slowly seeing less and less of me and she and my grandson moved several states away suddenly about half a year after she married when I’ve been dependent on her for transportation and groceries for years due to illnesses and mobiltiy impairment and chronic pain. So far, coming every few weeks to bring me groceries, out of guilt or a sense of obligation or whatever. Probably some mixture of both.

      I hate to think it and maybe just am not yet to a place I can admit it, but perhaps also a bit of vengeance – though for what I’m not quite sure. I did the opposite of abusing her; I skipped state with her to prevent her father’s abuse. 10 years later he was arrested for abusing other children. If only the court system had listened to, not me, but my daughter those children might have been spared.

      Nothing like you’re going through but gas lighting and emotional abuse – very definitely. She blames me for everything that’s ever gone wrong in her life. She’ll disagree with me on something and then if I bring it up agian claim she never said that and tries to make me look crazy in front of others. I won’t even discuss politics with her anymre because it’s all well and good when I agree with her – once she even gaslit me on that saying a derisive it figures when I wrote characters into some of my fiction that woudl be PC to her when she usually paints me as far more conservative than I am. (I’m centrist leaning right but, mainly, I don’t like the
      extremes of either political party, think the truth is almost always somewhere in the middle and am largely black pilled.) I do find myself walking on pins and needles around her. We have a series on Hulu we both like quite a lot so mainly we watch that together, have dinner and avoid touchy topics like my failure to be perfect. Apparently, even my fiction is contentious even when it aligns with her poltiical view but we can enjoy some stranger’s fiction. smh

      I’m hoping the final split never comes. My health is precarious and I’m hoping I pass before it comes but time will tell. If it does, well, grocery delivery or Meals on Wheels if it comes down to it and Uber will frankly do as much for me. I really need a caregiver but neither she nor my 19yo grandson are willing but that is what it is.

      You did the best thing for yourself. No one should endure that kind of abuse. Ironically, I’m also unique in that I disowned my parents as soon as I left home due to physical and verbal abuse. No sexual for which I’m grateful but I’m certain some of the mistakes I’ve made in life such as marrying the wrong man stem from abusive parents. Sigh. We can’t undo the past.

      I broke the cycle of abuse and never beat nor bullied my daughter like I was growing up but she still condemns me for failing to be perfect. Shrug. It’s heartbreaking but I have no control over that. I’m slowly coming to accept that. She thinks whether or not she continues to speak to me is her choice and I suspect at one point, she only continued to at my grandson’s insistence but there could very well come a time I’ll get just plain fed up. I hope not but, well, that actually too does depend on her. I certainly hope to have her in my life for whatever time I have left but there’s only so much I’ll put up with.

    3. Karen

      Come and go. No help at all.
      Wait for elder Dad to cook dinner for their family. Rude, classless, defiant,
      Selfish, clueless on and on.

  11. PR

    First holiday season alone as my 21 year old daughter refuses to have anything to do with me. And has for the last 11 months. She won’t explain why except to say I yelled when she was a child. And I did but not excessively. Sometimes I think I must have been a very crappy mom and have repressed how badly I treated her but I just do not remember a lot of yelling or issues as she was growing up. Certainly not to justify her telling me that I was “ never the mom she needed.” I am tired of being alone. Of missing her. Of not understanding. Of crying. If I see one more holiday commercial with happy families I feel like I might come undone.

    1. Beverly

      Your comment about how you feel you must have repressed how badly you treated your daughter, put into words I could not find. My son too, blamed me for everything in his childhood, after he became “enlightened ” he says . I questioned myself if I could have been what he depicts me to be during his childhood, so I would ask my family, friends, other 2 sibleys, go through home videos and pictures, and I believe I got affirmation that I wasnt as he said. I have came to the realization that he was gaslighting me, and fought to get back out of the ” grave” he was putting me in. Anyway PR, I hear what you are saying, stay strong and stand up for you. If you have found this site, it means that you cared and are terribly hurt. I guess the passage of time is healing. It has now been 1 1/2 years…will it be a lifetime…maybe is what I have come to accept…move forward dear.

    2. rparents Post author

      Dear PR,

      Turn of the television and radio. Don’t watch those commercials. That’s what they are, of course. Commercials, with commercial interests.

      As I advise in Done With The Crying, do look at the good you did. I’m sure you were a great mom in many ways. Parents are never perfect, but your daughter might want to look in a better mirror because hers is flawed.

      Furthermore, her abuse may have flawed your view of yourself: https://www.rejectedparents.net/abusive-adult-children-influence-how-you-see-yourself/

      HUGS dear PR.

      Sheri McGregor

    3. Cheryl

      I hear you about “happy families! Walmart, TV, neighbors, whatever. I had a moment of tears at work this morning as I have not heard from my ED for almost 2 years and my 3 year old grandson doesn’t know I exist.
      People don’t understand the pain, but this community of people does. If it weren’t for Sheri’s books my son, and this forum, I would be lost. So today, let’s try to be thankful, not for lack of communication, but lack of drama. That’s what I will do tomorrow as I look back on Thanksgivings when my daughter was just an asshole to me, her aunt, uncle, and grandparents.
      Happy Thanksgiving, I hope you will enjoy your day!

  12. Angela S.

    Going on 4 years of estrangement with my son and never spending a holiday with my grandson that i hardly know does hurt but i choose gratitude for the people that want to be in my life. To all you parents, keep your head up and enjoy each day that is given to you. Surround yourself with loved ones that want to spend precious time with you.

    1. Cheryl

      Thank you. My 3 year old grandson doesn’t know me or his great grandparents and great aunt, thanks to my ED. My day started with tears but will end with a letter to my grandson telling him how much I love him and wish I could hug him.

  13. Annemarie M.

    Wishing Sheri and all who visit this site a Happy Thanksgiving. Hoping and praying we all have peace of mind that comes from knowing we have done our best. I am making a much smaller turkey but otherwise cooking all the side dishes and can’t wait to eat them. Covid has distorted my taste for meat for many months now, hoping for a restoration to my taste buds soon! #blessings #youareloved

  14. Carol

    Thank you to everyone who writes these testaments. I’m in similar circumstances and it helps me so much to read about you all

    1. Debra W.

      I agree Carol it helps me alot also. My oldest son for no reason that I know of turned his back on me said he was done said the reason no one wanted to be around me was because I always started stuff which is not true. He does this every couple of years. Getting so tired of this. Can’t cry anymore. If he doesn’t want to be around me then so be it st least I have my youngest son.

  15. Bodhi

    We will be spending Xmas on our own, as our 25 year old daughter is estranged, for almost four months, after getting involved with a sketchy guy. She lives in our rental property. So things are awkward, but she makes no effort to reconcile, after her antisocial behaviour, going missing for days etc. We live in Canada, so Thanksgiving is over, and it was quiet but pleasant. This website is a lifesaver! Our daughter is adopted, but we gave her an exceptional, loving upbringing. Maybe we spoiled her. I’ve decided to live my life, and remain positive, active etc. My husband sees her occasionally, and perhaps that’s good. But she remains estranged, and has lied a lot to family members, about us. I never saw this coming. I’m 72, so I need to live my remaining years, in a happy way. Appreciate all the support that this site provides. Enjoy the holidays.

  16. Laura

    Thank you for this encouragement. We’ve decided the best way for us to move forward is to create new family holiday memories now that our 27 year old daughter has made us a stranger in her life. We will continuing to make our home a place for bountiful and warm holidays without our daughter. I happen to have a professional cooking background so Thanksgiving has always been a favorite family holiday. This is the first year our daughter will not be with us yet the people at our table will be grateful to spend the day with us and we’re grateful they can join us. In addition to our sweet grown son who is on the spectrum, we’re hosting one of his work friends, an elderly and lonely gentleman from an assisted living community, and friends who will be back in the country after extended travel. I’m also trying to be accepting of the situation with our daughter with equanimity, but it’s hard not taking just a little pleasure knowing our daughter, who is as food obsessed as me and loves my cooking, will be with eating a sad meal with her nasty fiance’s family who she had told us in the past are indifferent about holidays and awful cooks who eat take out most of the time.

  17. Terrie K.

    I am in the same boat as all the other’s here who have someone who has gone off without a goodbye or explanation, often times for reasons we will never know! What we do on Thanksgiving is have a dinner called “The Misfits”, we are invited to a friend who invites all those who would otherwise be alone. These people, some friends prior to this have also become a CHOSEN FAMILY.

    I have tried to tell other’s over the years that just because we share DNA that alone does not make that person someone we would choose to be in our lives. I have a spoiled only son, now 58 years old who was and is a narcissist and at this stage of the game we all know he is not going to change. The important part of this equation is the fact that at 78 years old I am also not going to morph into becoming someone who will change nor am I the kind of lady who would beg someone to be in my life when they have made it very apparent they would rather I not contact them. You only need to tell me once!

    I am a very black and white person, a business owner and someone who has always been the giver in more ways than just my money. At some point in our lives as we look at these people who have walked away for whatever reason, we must ask ourselves this question. Are these people we want in our life? Are these people those we could ever trust again even if they came to the door asking for forgiveness? I am a believe that if someone can put me through the hell he has then he has the ability to do it once again, even after an apology. I do not trust him therefore son or not, he never gets back into my life.

    I know there are people out there who cannot understand this but I will say that if we do not have a healthy ego and understanding that people are people, then that may just be the downfall for many. In some circumstances some of you may literally be better off! I have done my crying and lost 2 and a half years of my life wondering what I could have been blamed for. I have changed my will and all those who have 4 legs and a tail will benefit from this.

    1. Kate

      Terrie K.
      I did the same thing with my will. Everything you’ve said here is exactly how I feel. Even if a miracle occurred and my 51 yr. old ED were to apologize to me—I could never trust her again. But I don’t think she will ever admit that she’s ever done anything wrong in her entire life concerning me. I’ve already let her dump me a couple of times through the years and she never did apologize even back then. She just came back into my life for a few months, just long enough to use me and then as usual, she dumped me again. So the last time I saw her was in May 2014. I’m done. I can forgive her but I’m not going to forget.
      Please take care.

    2. Laura

      Great advice. It’s hard to flip the script and move on even a little, but once I stopped desperately thinking about how to get our daughter to want to be part of our life again, I slowly realized she is the one who destroyed our family and broke a sacred bond despite living a stable and privileged life of love and support. I could never trust her again and allow her back in my heart like she was before no matter what happens going forward. Never. We realized how transactional she is and also changed our will to protect our adult son on the spectrum so she can’t hurt him in any way when we’re gone. It’s hard to admit to ourselves that she isn’t who we thought she was. It’s more clear she wasn’t kidding before all this happened when she said she wouldn’t take care of him. He’d end up in a home or on the streets if we left anything to her. It’s weirdly freeing to accept this reality and move on emotionally from the indifferent and cruel pain inflicted on us by someone we gave everything to…but we’re working on it.

  18. Colleen

    I will eat alone again for the holidays. No son. No one. Not even a friend will come over or invite . For 5 years. It feels like a nightmare.

    I will never be “whole” again.

    1. Diane M.

      Colleen, You already are whole! Holidays are hard, especially when we are alone. It’s taken me a long time to be OK with it. Give yourself time and be good to yourself, in the meantime. Treat yourself to something special this Holiday. Make yourself a meal you like, even if it’s pizza, soup or just a sandwich. Watch TV. Take a sweet nap. And for Christmas, buy yourself a gift! I do that every year and even wrap it. If you are able, drive around and look at the pretty holiday lights. Some churches even offer holiday dinners where you can eat with them or take the dinners home. You don’t have to belong to these churches either. See what your options are. Plan ahead. Think now of ways you can treat yourself, for YOU ARE WORTH IT. Enjoy these holidays in your own ways. Even if it’s just relaxing and reading a good book. Important that you plan ahead and write them down. Colleen, you’ll get thru these times. I, and many others, will be alone for these holidays too. Wishing you the best and much happiness!

    2. Colleen C.

      Colleen. We have 7 children and one of our seven has turned 3 other children against us due to his misery. We really only have our two daughters that want anything to do with us. We’ve decided to move…change holiday traditions and stop trying to please anyone but ourselves. If I lived by you you’d be welcome in our home! Sending love to you this holiday season.

  19. Vickie

    My son & DIL have estranged us for two and a half years now. This Thanksgiving, my husband & I have determined to bless others who are lonely or don’t have family in town. We love to have a house full and have found this eases the pain. We will have 11 around our table this Thursday: a nurse who has to work in the evening and can’t visit her family, a young man who is recently divorced, a young neighbor couple who can’t travel to be with family, a couple who is from another country and hasn’t celebrated many Thanksgivings. Lastly, to fill our table, I asked the latter couple to invite anyone of their choice. It will be a house filled with conversation and laughter, at our choosing. And note: everyone is bringing their favorite dish, so the burden to host is light!

  20. Dolly

    My husband of fifty years and I are strict Vegans so since we now eat Thanksgiving dinner just the two of us, at least we don’t have to worry about finding something we can eat. Our son estranged us two years ago and our daughter lives far away. She promised to FaceTime us if she has time. I will make my vegan gluten free veggie noodle dish and vegan cranberry muffins. We live very simply and I am so grateful for my husband. He suffered a stroke two years ago. He is doing better and we are getting even closer now especially since we don’t have to deal with our selfish, uncaring, bullying narcissistic son anymore. Our grandson won’t remember us since he was only 4 when we were told we were not wanted anymore. We are finally realizing that one should not expect unconditional forever love and devotion from the children one raises. And even though we have some wonderful memories of holidays gone by when our family was “whole”, I’m afraid that now we are now among the many people that just want the holidays to be over!! God bless all of you and thank you for your unbelievable caring love and support. We feel so much less alone now and pray that you all do as well. Stay strong.

  21. Donna

    I never understood the concept that there was something wrong with eating alone – in or out. I’ve sat in many a restaurant enjoying a solo meal and a good book. It’s very pleasant.

    In is even sillier than out. Are those of us who live alone never supposed to eat? How abusrd and unrealisitc. Do married couples skip a meal if their spouse has to be elsewhere? Of course, not. This is really a silly concept.

    My daughter is cookng our traditional dinner for me and her husband. My grandson is having dinner with his other grandmother who he doesn’t see as much as he does me so that’s good. I think he is somewhat in our position because his father has largely cut him out of his life, not the other way around and he is obviously hurt by it. But, for now, holidays mean with me and he’s stopping to spend a few minutes the end of the day with me because he wants to and that made me happy. He’s 19 and he doesn’t like to talk about his father so we don’t press him but let him know we are here for him. But it has affected his ability to see his other grandmother so I think it is good that he made an effort to give her Thanksgiving. My grandson’s sweet like that.

    We’re in a gray area half in and half out of each other’s lives. I get nervous reading how many here were in that gray area before estrangement but, for now I give them the benefit of the doubt and am grateful for the half in. I’ll take it.

    I do understand about preparing food but I usually eat alone and I tend to eat prepared because I have all kinds of health issues that keep me from cooking. Since our family is small, I will be left with lots of leftovers they don’t want to take home several states away so my fare for the next week or so will be homemade frozen dinners anyway. That too is something to look forward to. My daughter cooks better than Marie Callender or Stouffeur.

    But one thing about TV dinners is there is portion control. No seconds and you don’t want seconds frankly! But yes too much fat and salt. I usually only have one for my main noon meal and just have a roll or something for breakfast and a sandwich at night. I do not like mayo or butter or the like on sadwiches and make with pita so somewhat better.

    I need a caregiver but neither are willing to be one and I simply can’t afford assisted living so I have to find ways to enable myself to live alone. Convenience meals are crucial for some of us.

    And occassionally, yes, the daughter still makes me a homemade meal. I look forward to turkey and all the trimmings and about a week or so leftovers. One I do like to make post-Thanksgiving is turky hash. If there’s leftover potates (mashed or sweet) and turkey kind of cube the turkey and sautee them up with the potatoes and just a little butter until warm, season to your taste. I have this salt-free Italian seasoning that I like in everything.

    Deep dish apple pie for dessert. Will be cut in about six slices probably which will leave me two for breakfast for a couple of days. Yum. Yum. Yes, I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner with them and the leftovers without them.

    1. Tovah

      Eating alone has a stigma simply because of what it “says” about you: I am alone and have no one to do things with.
      I too have eaten with myself on several occasions, even in Paris on a group trip. While there I met a charismatic woman who struck up a conversation about the merits of having a French lover! I would not have had such an interesting conversation with her if I had been accompanied by someone, especially my husband who had stayed home for that trip.
      The holidays greatly magnifies that dining alone stigma. Now you are alone when everyone else in the world is with their loved ones. The truth is that this is a huge myth! Millions of people around the world are alone during the entire holiday season. It is a sad time for so many who, like me, remember people who died close to the holidays. Both my beloved grandmother and my husband’s father died in November. I also lost a cherished 18-year-old pet at that time.
      I am reminded of my losses of the past as well as the more recent losses of our children but in holding tightly to what is good and right my husband and I have drawn closer together because of our loss.
      We have each other. That is the Pro to many Cons.
      We wish all of the parents here and also those who have yet to find this safe space a peaceful, restful Thanksgiving, hoping that you can feel content being not by yourself but with yourself.

  22. Diane M.

    Thank you, Sheri for your comments about Gratitude. I so am grateful for your newsletters and people’s comments. I’ve been estranged from my daughter and her family for a few years now. My son and I are talking but he lives a bit farther away and he’s happy being alone. But we do talk on the holidays. For the past few Thanksgivings, I made myself a big meal. Then I still had all that clean-up afterwards. This year, I’m having a simple meal with no big clean-up. Then, my plan is to start bringing out some of my Christmas decorations. That always makes me so happy. I don’t enjoy all the holiday TV commercials that are already on, showing perfect families. I have to remind myself that they are only there to sell a product. I do keep a gratitude journal and write a special list each Thanksgiving of ALL things I am grateful for and began these lists in 1994. It’s then fun to go back and reread them all too.

    I hope that all of you, when you look into your hearts, find much that you are grateful for. Enjoy Thanksgiving in your own special way. For you are all so Special to me.

  23. Suzanne W.

    Thanksgiving, nine years ago, was the day my mother died and the last time I saw my estranged daughter. This year my husband is going through radiation treatments and will be tired. But…we will celebrate our life in a quiet, small fashion with a little turkey, oyster dressing and the rest of it. I’ll get dressed up and maybe set the big table in the dining room with candles. Who knows? We might never pass this way again, so I want to make it special. I cannot ignore the brutal reality of our family now, but I will do all I can not to let it overtake me. Thanks for the gratitude list idea. Happy Holidays to all.

    1. Diane M.

      I wish you a very nice Thanksgiving day. Sending good wishes your way that your husband feels better soon. Enjoy the upcoming holiday season as best you can.

    2. Annie

      Suzanne, a peaceful and healthy holiday to you and your husband. Your post resonated with me, especially this: “We might never pas this way again, so I want to make it special. I cannot ignore the brutal reality of our family now, but I will do all I can not to let it overtake me.” November 26th was my mother’s birthday and my parent’s anniversary. Dad died many years ago and Mom’s been gone for 3 years. My Thanksgiving memories growing up were filled with lots of family, fun and food. It’s not that way anymore and hasn’t been for many years. My daughter lives close and we currently have some contact but will not spend the holiday together. I will remember your words and Sheri’s suggestion to make a gratitude list to carry me through the next few weeks.

  24. Kris

    We thought we were a close family, we have two daughters and 3 grandchildren who we couldn’t love more. My husband is their step dad and we raised them together, he helped put the youngest daughter through college, gave her a beautiful wedding etc. My husband got a rare and life threatening cancer and since we were working together, we found ourselves immediately unemployed. To make a long story short my youngest daughter was having her first baby and begged us to take care of her. We took care of both her daughter and their son while she and her husband both worked for 13 years. Feeding them, loving them, running them to all their sports year round & it was very happy & fun times. But we never had backup even though we asked and asked except for a week in the summer when their other grandparents returned from their home in another state to their home there and could help. We suffered abuse especially from the youngest one through the years (the oldest daughter cut us off for 10 years and we couldn’t see that grandson) Then our youngest left her husband for a wealthy man and the abuse to us got worse. Our oldest daughter and 3rd husband begin fanning the flames. Our youngest daughter has a horrible temper like her biological father and she abused me in private with me stuffing it and not sharing with my husband for years. Anyway, 2 years ago I was diagnosed with cancer, treateable but not curable and immediately went through months of debilitating chemo during covid. This last blow up over a year ago was so ridiculous and the worst yet and she cut us off. So after living in our state for all those years and our oldest grandaughter now attending college, we decided to move to southern AZ this summer and we can finally breathe again, our stomachs are not in knots, we don’t suffer from anxiety and depression. We take beautiful walks, swim, laugh, enjoy nature and the wildlife and the beautiful sunshine and sunsets and each other. I have a cancer center here but am doing ok at the moment, I was told I would probably have treatment again in 18 months after chemo but so far so good, blessings and prayers and support from our long time wonderful and dear friends who have kept in touch definitely helps. We keep in touch with the grandkids through texting some but nothing with the mother. We have both reached out to her and tried to fix this but to no avail, she won’t talk. We always tell the grandkids that we love and miss them. Our hearts have a hole but we are in our 70’s and we want to stay as healthy and as happy as possible for the years that are remaining. A physical move to another state is pretty extreme and is physically and mentally draining. It really felt like we didn’t have much choice. Not being far from our grandkids but not ever being able to see them ate us up and for now we have peace. Our wish for so many of you who are going through this is that you find some kind of peace for yourselves, for us prayer is very important and trusting in God, life is so very short.

  25. Ann J.

    We haven’t had Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other holiday with our only child in over 10 yrs. The first few years were miserable, but we are fine now, Oh, we still get a bit of anger, but we will never again tell him that we miss him – he just doesn’t care. He can’t even be bothered to respond to an email, why should I spend time and tears fussing about him?

    We have something special that we like to eat, and make a slightly fancier than normal meal. I am on a ridiculously restricted diet due to gut issues, so going out or even to friends is a pain in the butt. This year we bought some turkey parts and will have those, but we often have seafood that we love. We spend the day doing what we want, but that doesn’t include going back to bed in depression.

    This year, I am going to try something new as an ongoing situation. I have recently found a renewal of faith and I think that I will make it a point to pray for our son in a more positive way. It won’t hurt either of us!! So give thanks for those wayward children. They brought us great joy at one time, and that is evidenced in the way we miss them. Even if that is lost to time, it is still something to be grateful for.

  26. Beth

    One year I flew to Costa Rica for Thanksgiving where I spent the week doing volunteer work. A family of 6, parents and adult children, were my companions. Our program coordinators organized a special meal for us complete with festive decorations. It was lovely.
    Another year I cooked up a traditional turkey dinner for myself that I enjoyed, a fire going before me and a nice glass of wine.
    My mother died and my son distanced himself from me, and suddenly what had been a decades long tradition of hosting a big family Thanksgiving in my home was no more. I was alone and totally lost that 1st year. I decided I had to reinvent holidays for myself. The alternative was too painful and I deserved to enjoy holidays. I just needed to figure out new options. I still feel a sense of loss but mixed with marvelous memories of past Thanksgivings, and the pleasure of new adventures.

  27. Barbara

    My youngest son and I became estranged just this past two weeks. But, in retrospect
    I should have seen it coming. Thanksgiving and the holidays were always a wonderful time when my boys were young. Since they have grown and have their own families tradition was for me to prepare the large meals, deserts, snacks, drinks, etc. Everyone came for dinner and after dinner games. When I turned 70 two years ago I felt it time to relinquish the traditional dinners to my married son and his wife. I was told that there would be no holiday dinners due to the “pandemic ” because it wasn’t safe. Forward to that years Thanksgiving evening, I received a text from my son that he had, in fact, cooked a turkey with all the trimmings and “forgot” to let me know. He and his wife would bring me and my husband some leftovers. I told him not to bring them, we had already eaten. So, with no gatherings the past two years, my husband and I have shared and celebrated quiet and wonderful dinners enjoying “just us”. And, now that my son has asked that I not contact him, we see our future holidays open to traveling and dinners with other family members who enjoy our company as we do theirs. Happy Holidays to you all. I am grateful to be a part of this new family of friends!

  28. candleinthewind

    Always interested in the incidentals, I’m struck by the fact that there’s a one letter difference between lonely and lovely. We are lovely.

  29. sandy

    this year as every year my son-[lives with us], my husband will eat at table…but all the other days I eat alone at table.This seems to be crushing.Family ,food, beautiful table is my desire but never happens and after years of doing just that to eat alone every day I have given up.Our daughter left family 30+ years ago after giving up her son for us to raise,,,,,,somehow as bad as that was the hurt is equal to eating alone daily.

  30. Lotus Flower

    I will not be having thanksgiving with my daughter and grandchildren as is mostly the usual case. So I’ll be having a fairly healthy turkey frozen dinner with veggies and because I love pumpkin pie I’m making a homemade pie which will be very healthy and yummy. Im grateful I have a place to live but my daughter and grandchildren are homeless living with a friend for now. I’m grateful for at least for that. My motto, don’t worry be happy

  31. David

    Off-the-charts extrovert here, so eating alone shouldn’t be something I enjoy, but I do! There was a season in my life when I traveled for work a great deal. I would frequently bank my per diem until the last night of the trip and then splurge on a restaurant that had great reviews. I learned to turn my self-perception around from one of “everyone here must feel sorry for me that I’m dining alone” to “everyone here must be aware that I have enough self-confidence to dine alone”. I’d spend meal time studying how the restaurant worked: Host making the handoff of diners to waiters, waiters ability to seamlessly take orders, deliver beverages, refill glasses, serve food and then clear the table. That would keep my head up instead of staring at my phone or my plate. When my posture went from the slouch of discomfort about being by myself to a heads-up posture of enjoying myself it was amazing the difference in service. Waiters and restaurant hosts would engage rather than avoid. Fortunately holidays won’t be spent alone–our daughter and her husband are still fully engaged with us, but I will miss our son.

  32. Cynthia C.

    I am between homes this Thanksgiving having just sold one and waiting to move into the other. I am staying with a friend and feeling completely out if sorts.

    The new house is supposed to be ready Tuesday night and that is a very good thing.

    I called my one son out of three ( one is estranged, the other never comes for Thanksgiving as he lives away and has his own life) the one son will come.

    Shopping for another tiny Thanksgiving missing my other two sons will be very last minute.

    I shall be missing the other two.
    I feel more displacec and alone than ever.

    I shall dig out some paper from amongst the unpacked boxes and write not a list of food to buy but a list of the things that I am grateful for.

    I shall think of you all as you go about your own tiny Thanksgivings.


  33. Wendy M.

    For the past few years COVID has stopped our usual traditions. Thanksgiving was a favorite holiday of mine when I could gather with family, those not estranged. It’s now time to start some new traditions. My husband and I have moved across country to begin our retirement in the Free State of Florida. We’ve been living in our RV after traveling for a month across the country visiting special places along the way. We’re building a house and recently bought a second house to renovate, live in while we wait for our new home, and then rent out to our grandson’s grandparents so they can be closer to us. We will all be able to work together to raise our 9 year old grandson…4 is better than 2! Having finished just enough renovations, we hope to move into our home this week. We met a young couple in the RV resort and have invited them and their 7 year old son over to have some kind of meal. It’s more important for us to be together than to prepare the entire Thanksgiving Spread. I’m thinking a Turkey Meatloaf, with sides and Pumpkin Bread with ice cream. Yum!

    1. Annie

      Ah, turkey meatloaf could be the answer for what we’ll have this Thanksgiving if my partner and I don’t decide to go out to dinner. Thanks for the reminder, Wendy, of a simple, delicious meal-turkey meatloaf with sun-dried tomato pesto, mashed potatoes, a salad and pumpkin pie. Yum!

  34. Christine

    I invite a friend and her husband for the holidays every year. They do not have any children by choice, and I, learning to live without mine, allow me to just have a regular meal with friends on a special day. It’s always pleasant and have no expectations for anything but good conversation and laughs. I also have a sister nearby and sometimes will go to her place and share it with her and her two sons whom she still has a relationship with, but who also have their own problems it are always welcoming to me. They play games and are good company if I’m feeling down. Happy Thanksgiving, Sheri. I am very thankful to you and for all you do for this community by remembering and caring about us hurting but recovering souls out here!

  35. Marni Hill Foderaro

    Dearest Sheri,

    Your newsletter, always filled with thoughtful responses, perspectives and possibilities, is a welcomed gift providing inspiration to help other loving parents get through challenges and embrace change, especially during the holidays.

    There is so much to be thankful for.

    Like you, I find joy, wonder and appreciation in the natural world, where I am immersed with such overwhelming beauty. Spending time outside illustrates how all living things are always evolving.

    I choose to embrace an attitude of gratitude.

    I am grateful for you, your heartfelt messages and your amazing books and healing workbook.

    You continue to impact the world by gently guiding other parents to acknowledge our unique, but all too common, situations.

    May God Bless you.



  36. Diane H.

    Thank you, what a fabulously thoughtful article! Honestly, prioritize self care – you, me, all of us deserve care and consideration. Even if the care comes from ourselves. Mothers all around the world dedicated years and untold hours caring for others, always putting ourselves last. I don’t regret any of it, but I also feel now that now is my time- despite the circumstances not being my choice. I make dates with myself for pampering – nails and hair. It’s about self respect and love. Empowering stuff! Just because my kids think I’m shite, I don’t have to agree or be miserable. I’m the mum, hear me roar!! Best wishes from New Zealand.


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