By Emily Trube | @KRLDEmily

DALLAS (1080 KRLD) – Sometimes circumstances keep us from spending time with family on Thanksgiving and sometimes we choose not to. Either way, spending time away from family during the holidays is not always a negative, and spending time with friends instead can be a positive.

“From personal experience, living away from family at one point in my life, we did have a ‘Friendsgiving’, ”  says Jacqueline Juarez, who is a  Behavioral Health Counselor at Parkland Health & Hospital System.  ” You, know, it was equally as special and a great way to spend time with people you choose to be around and people you enjoy being around.”

Sometimes friends are far away too.  But, being on your own does not necessarily mean you have to spend the holiday by yourself.  There are plenty of places open in North Texas on Thanksgiving where you can find folks in a festive mood.  Norma’s Cafe famously serves a free Thanksgiving dinner at its locations. This year, the Slow Bone in Dallas will be gifting smoked turkey and all the fixins from 1 until 4.

The original Blackeyed Pea restaurant on Cedar Springs in Dallas has been a huge gathering place for 40 years.

(Photo by Emily Trube, 1080 KRLD)

(Photo by Emily Trube, 1080 KRLD)

“I think we were one of the first, years ago, that opened for Thanksgiving,” says Ricky Rogers, who is the General Manger for the flagship location.  He is expecting between 350 and 400 dinners will be served on Thanksgiving Day this year.  That number is actually small compared to the Blackeyed Pea locations in Collin and Tarrant County, where families gather at the home cooking restaurant.

Giving back is another option.  “That’s a really great way to spend the holiday season,” says Juarez. “It’s the season of giving and making sure we try to have time and energy to give back to our communities.”

Many organizations already have a full  volunteer list this Thanksgiving Day, but, hey,  you never know.  Some resources to check out include Volunteer Match, Event Brite and Random Acts of Kindness.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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