A Thanksgiving of your own

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume 112, No. 11November, 2012

Cindy Green, LCSW

The office of the Musicians’
Assistance Program is your one-stop shop for musicians’ health. We offer
counseling – both one-on-one and in groups – as well as information on all
kinds of social services, including health insurance, housing, food stamps and
more. All services are free to Local 802 members. Contact us at
or (212) 397-4802

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday,
filled with family, friends, football, turkey and generally a wide assortment of
sweet and savory carbohydrates. For many, this description of Thanksgiving fits
the Hollywood image, but it is not necessarily based in reality. Families often
live far from the city and expensive air fare is an unrealistic option. Kitchens
in New York City don’t easily accommodate preparations for dinner for more
than one person. For musicians, the long weekend that follows can mean added
performances. The question is: How do you make Thanksgiving fit your lifestyle?
Here are a few suggestions.

FRIENDS THANKSGIVING. For some, the holidays
can be a lonely time when we miss the love and support of family. This is a
great time to gather your "family of choice" – the close friends you’ve
developed through your years in New York. Spending the holiday with friends who
you’ve chosen can make for a new and different experience. Everyone in the
room will be there by your invitation – no ambush visits from that nosey aunt
and no one asking, "Are you still trying to make a living a musician?"
If you have some international friends, consider this a great opportunity to
share a real American tradition.

POTLUCK THANKSGIVING. Asking everyone to pitch
in a little bit will save you money, effort and tons of time. Invite your
friends and nearby family, but ask each to bring a dish big enough to serve all
of your guests. Assign dishes ahead of time to make sure you’re not overloaded
with mashed potatoes or string bean casseroles. Celebrate someone’s special
signature dish! When you’re hosting this type of dinner, you can spend your
time preparing your home for guests. At the end of the day, everyone takes their
serving dishes home with them and you’re left with much less cleanup.

THEMED THANKSGIVING. Who says you have to have
turkey Thanksgiving dinner? Consider breaking tradition and creating an entirely
new menu. A Middle Eastern Thanksgiving could include serving hummus with pita,
lamb and baklava. An Italian Thanksgiving might involve pasta as a main course.
How about an appetizer-only Thanksgiving for those who prefer to fill up on the
hors d’oeuvres? Maybe a vegetarian Thanksgiving would suit you. Or how about
celebrating all your favorite desserts? Get creative with endless possibilities.

opportunities to express your thanks by giving back to others on Thanksgiving.
Churches, soup kitchens, shelters and social services agencies all over the city
look for additional volunteer help for Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that
volunteers are critical to most nonprofit organizations. Thanksgiving is a great
day, but they need help throughout the year. It’s a great way to support your
community and you’ll feel great about it. Contact the Actors Fund Work Program
for information on how to lend a hand whenever you can. Call (212) 354-5480.

These are just a few suggestions. Explore any and
all unusual, creative ways to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season.
This is a time of great joy for so many, but it’s also not unusual to feel
down and lonely during the holidays.

If you’re struggling during the season with feelings of sadness or
depression, please contact the MAP office for help. Our services, as always, are
free and confidential. Call (212) 397-4802 or e-mail