How to Skip Celebrating Thanksgiving
When it comes to
I've also had many lovely Thanksgivings with my grandparents who raised me-my Manhattan-born-and-bred grandma would cook up a storm of spicy pumpkin pie (quadruple the ginger!), garlicky hummos, a giant green salad, and a leg of lamb spiked with-what could be better?-more garlic.
One thing I hadn't tried until a couple of years ago? Not celebrating Thanksgiving at all. Now I enjoy the day immensely because I'm mindful and relaxed. I'm not hewing to others' ideas of what the day should be: Here's how and why I've given up the turkey (and tofurkey) for good and you can too:
Be Cozy, Be Quiet
The end of November is the time of year when all you want to do is relax in some cute loungewear at home. This is an achievable goal. Instead of dressing up for Thanksgiving dinner and lugging myself around town or across the country, I dress down for some serious couch time. Do you, whether that's yoga in your pajamas, eating pancakes for dinner, catching up on back copies of The New Yorker, or meaningful playtime with your kitty (double entendre intended!). You don't have to go anywhere, or do anything, and nothing is going on out there either (barring those that work on
No Stuffing (yourself)
I love eating and all, but the ritualized overconsumption that's synonymous with Thanksgiving is hellish. Call me crazy, but cramming my stomach so full that I feel horribly nauseated for hours afterwards is not my idea of a good time. It's not about restriction though-I'm not here for that! It IS about savoring what you really love: If there's a particular Thanksgiving dinner thing you adore (mine is homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest), you can eat it anytime before, after, or during the holiday! I make a batch of my cranberry sauce and enjoy it just as I would if it were leftover from Thanksgiving dinner, usually on buttered toast at breakfast or over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I still enjoy my fave seasonal foods without stuffing myself full of those I don't.
Flying the day before Thanksgiving is a very special hell. I've also driven for a dozen hours, endured crowded trains, and spent way too much time on the subway getting to and from Thanksgiving celebrations. In short: It sucked. For what? A meal with loved ones that could happen almost any other time? Being in a specific place for "the holiday" is some kind of modern torture we have resigned ourselves to. Why? If you want to see friends or family for a nice meal, there are literally hundreds of other days to do it-days when everyone else isn't on the roads/in the skies/on the rails. If you have to gird your loins to travel on Thanksgiving, seriously consider making a plan to see whoever it is another time. A time when you won't have to endanger your life on roads filled with semi-drunk drivers and elderly people who only get behind the wheel a few times a year. A time when public transit isn't packed with seething hordes ready to strike at anyone after hours of keeping their mouths shut around offensive relatives.
Skip Worrying About How to Handle "Political" Conversations
If the thought of holding yourself back for a second year in a row from "political" conversations at the Thanksgiving dinner table causes a knot in your stomach, just say no. The truth is it's not "politics" any more, it's our lives, the lives of those we care about, and the health and happiness of those with the least that's at stake these days. Thanksgiving dinner shouldn't involve coming up with ways to deflect abuse directed towards you or those you love just because it's expected. You can love your relatives without smiling through gritted teeth just to make it to dessert without screaming.
Find Yourself More Thankful
By eschewing Thanksgiving, I'm not dealing with the stress of family or friends, traffic or travel, cooking for a large group or pretending to like food I don't, drinking too much and then figuring out when I'm sober enough to drive. Having a true day off while most other people are busy is a beautiful thing to be savored-and I enjoy every single minute of it. It's quiet, relaxed, and I catch up on sleep and sanity. And for that I'm extremely thankful!
Not celebrating Thanksgiving has brought my holiday stress down to near zero. I'm relaxed, and in turn, much MORE jolly and joyful during the rest of the holiday season. People's cute picsof "Baby's First Thanksgiving" and beautiful Martha Stewart-y spreads are now something to enjoy: From afar, in my pajamas, eating pancakes, I can truly enjoy the holiday.
If you've never really enjoyed Thanksgiving*, if it is stressful and hard, take a year off and try it out. You can always go back next year if you decide you don't want to live without it! Remember: Holidays are not mandated once you are an adult. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't mean you have to. But be forewarned: It's so wonderful to skip holidays, you might find yourself foregoing the insanity of Christmas next.
*You don't have to be anti-Thanksgiving not to celebrate it; I don't hate Thanksgiving like Cher, Mayim Bialik , or Angelina Jolie (who reportedly takes her kids on vacation outside the US during the holiday), I'm just not that into it. I'm not here to suggest that anyone who does love the holiday shouldn't go all out with the cooking or eating or hanging with their family if that's their jam-it's just not mine. Imagine a beautiful world where everyone makes decisions based on what's right for them, not what's expected by others-whether that's having kids, celebrating Thanksgiving, or watching Game of Thrones.