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When a coworker feels sorry for you at Thanksgiving (but they don't need to)

Thanksgiving is almost here, and your family lives far away. You have decided to stay here this year, and curl up with a movie and maybe a box of KFC. You're totally fine with it. So why is a coworker making you feel all kinds of bad about it?

The modern workforce is highly mobile, and our jobs can take us to the other side of the country -- or even to the other side of the world. We keep up with family through technology, but what about turkey day?

Luckily, your employer has given you Thanksgiving and Black Friday off in addition to the weekend, so theoretically you could catch a flight home for Thanksgiving. But you've decided to stay put this time. You have your reasons.

Welcome to the downside of working far away from family. Nobody likes making the decision whether or not to travel at Thanksgiving, and many people struggle with it every year.

When Turkey Day Is Personal Downtime
Quietly, you're actually looking forward to the Thanksgiving break. You'll be able to sleep in a little bit, and put the work away for a few days (okay, a few hours). Just the thought of having nowhere you need to be unless you want to be there fills you with bliss. Ahhh, true relaxation is just around the corner!


Then a coworker asks what you're doing for Thanksgiving and you make the mistake of being honest. Oh, I'm just staying here and taking it easy. It's too much hassle to fly home for 48 hours. I might go see a movie or something.

This coworker literally gasps. "OMG, that's so sad! I feel so badly for you! That's horrible!" this coworker says.

It is?

"Come to my house on Thanksgiving Day," this coworker offers. "That way, you don't have to be alone. I'm having 30 people over for dinner. You can go Black Friday shopping with me and my family when the stores open at 9 p.m.!"

This coworker proceeds to grab your Thanksgiving plans like a dog with a turkey bone and won't let go. This coworker wants to make sure you to have some company. You can't just do Netflix, knitting and corn nuts all day long. Can you?


This coworker seems to be missing the point. YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS DOWNTIME. That's okay, isn't it? You don't mind having a low-key holiday. It doesn't bother you to single rather than mingle this year. But you don't say it like that, because, well, maybe it will make you look like too much of a loner, or something? So you say, "Thanks so much, but I don't want to interfere with your family plans. Really, it's okay. I'm good."

You aren't lying; you are good with it! But this coworker keeps inviting you, anyway.

How To Say "No, Thanks" On Thanksgiving
On the one hand, this coworker's concern is endearing. They want to make sure you feel the family spirit on Thanksgiving Day! This coworker is opening their home to you, and inviting you into their family festivities. Aww. That is very kind, and sweet. Turning it down for some personal downtime might even make you feel sort of guilty.

On the other hand, you wish this coworker wouldn't dismiss your plans for 48 hours of Fortnite played in your flannel jammies as being a sad state of affairs. You have things to do; they're just not things this coworker thinks you should be doing on a holiday, apparently. What should you do when a coworker pities your plans for Thanksgiving Day nap domination?

Thank this coworker for the invitation, then firmly decline. Thank you, but I won't be able to make it. Don't say "it sounds fun, but..." because that leaves the door open. Don't say, "I might be able to stop by..." unless you really mean it, because this coworker will be laying a place setting for you. It is rude not to show up when you said you would be there.

Also, you can suggest this coworker invite another coworker who is also far away from family and would very much welcome to opportunity to spend time with a family. You might have a few coworkers who would jump at the opportunity and would even be willing to stand in line outside Best Buy at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, just for the company. Or maybe you can invite them to your place. They would love it, and feel grateful for it. It's a win-win. Let's look for these opportunities to buoy each other up, and power each other through the holidays.

In a fruitcake nutshell: mean what you say, and say what you mean. And what you mean to say is that you need some downtime with your Xbox and an X-Files marathon. You work hard, and you're thankful for your job -- even if it has taken you far away from family. You are thankful for this nap time.

It's okay to give yourself permission to relax, and to enjoy the holiday in your own way. Have fun playing Fortnite, and my best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!


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