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For Va. Woman, Thanksgiving Is A 'Free Day'


Not everyone is spending the day gathering with family around the Thanksgiving table. Lots of people spend the holidays alone, and many by choice. Patty Murphy of Richmond, Virginia and her family decided years ago that taking planes, trains and automobiles to join each other in New York took some of the fun out of the holiday. So, she started a new tradition.

PATTY MURPHY: You know, I'll wake up. If it's cold, I might put a log on the fire, have a mimosa, put on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and make the round of calls to different family members and friends. There's no routine, I think, which is what's really nice about it. Because even on the weekends, you have routines, and so it really does feel like it's a free day.

WERTHEIMER: Solo holiday plans don't always sit well with everyone.

MURPHY: When you tell people that you're spending it alone, they're very shocked. Every single person you say that to, no matter how loosely affiliated you are with them, will insist that you come to their house or wherever they're going. I mean, they really are quite adamant, even though some of them are complaining about their families and not wanting to go themselves.


WERTHEIMER: Murphy says if you're single, it's almost like being at your house does not count as being at home.

MURPHY: I don't know what it is. I just really think that there is that idea that it has to be a bad thing to be alone on the holiday. There is no other model for spending the holiday. You spend it with your family, or you spend it wishing you were with your family. And so I've learned just to kind of say the white lie. And if they're not people who live near me, then I'll say I'm going to New York. But if they live near me, like neighbors, I'll say people are coming over so that they won't get suspicious if they see my car in the driveway.

WERTHEIMER: Patty Murphy hopes that people don't think she's ungrateful for their kind invitations, but she wants to reassure them.

MURPHY: I don't feel lonely. I don't feel unfulfilled. I feel fabulous. You know, I don't feel disconnected. I'm not an introvert. I'm an extrovert.

WERTHEIMER: Even as an extrovert, Murphy says, on some Thanksgivings past, she's wanted to connect with people at holiday events, but they've been busy watching sports on TV. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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