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Cures for unhappy holidays

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

The winter festivities can make this the loneliest time of year for some. Guests discuss ways to get through the holidays when they find themselves alone.

The most wonderful time of the year can be isolating for those spending the holidays alone. On this episode of Talk of Iowa, guests join host Charity Nebbe to share ways to cope when holidays aren’t so happy.

Joy Wulff Thorson shares her efforts to brighten the holidays for seniors spending the day alone. Emily Allen from AARP explains how health conditions and limited mobility can isolate elderly people in the holidays and year round. Social isolation can also impact physical health.

Pat Kinney discusses how divorced parents with shared custody agreements deal with loneliness and how they make meaning of the holidays when they can’t be with their kids.

Then, family therapist Jacob Priest explains why it’s painful to be alone on specific dates. He also discusses the situations that lead to people spending the holidays alone, including family strife. Priest invites listeners to change definitions of home and family and adapt traditions as children become young adults.


  • Joy Wulff Thorson
  • Emily Allen, Interim President, Senior Vice President, Programs AARP Foundation
  • Pat Kinney, oral historian with the Grout Museum District
  • Jacob Priest, associate professor in the University of Iowa College of Education, clinician in the UIHC LGBTQ+ clinic
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Caitlin Troutman is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio
Natalie Dunlap is a rising junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and minoring in gender, women's & sexuality studies. She is from Iowa City and in her free time enjoys getting coffee and reading downtown with friends.