Since we’re here in November, I’m going to talk about Thanksgiving this month. I love Thanksgiving. I love good food, good friends, and a reminder to sit down and count my blessings.
See, this is how I see Thanksgiving:
It’s sort of an awesome blend of Norman Rockwell and a rock concert with delicious food.
There are others, however, who see Thanksgiving like this:
… only with turkey.
If your Thanksgiving resembles illustration #2 more than illustration #1, you’re doing it wrong. Stop it. Get help now.
Look, the point of Thanksgiving isn’t family drama. The point of Thanksgiving isn’t to make sure you work your hindquarters off delivering a feast that everyone then reminds you not to eat. The point of Thanksgiving isn’t even turkey. At its heart, Thanksgiving is about gathering with people who love you, and whom you love in return, to share the bounty of the season and appreciate what’s good in your life.
If you’re trying to avoid illustration #2 in your holiday life, here are some quick tips that will improve your life.
1: Never sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with people who are going to treat you badly. I don’t care whether the folks in question are your parents, your spouse, your grown kids, or your roommates. If they will treat you badly at the table, eat with someone else. I have a brother who will never, ever eat my cooking again. Why? Because every time I’ve ever fed him, he’s made sure I know he thinks my cooking sucks rancid donkey tails. No point in putting either of us through that. He’s not coming over for Thanksgiving… or Christmas.
Whether the culprit is going to attack your: cooking, IQ, choice of friends, waistline, religious beliefs, food preferences, DVD collection, or sartorial style, you just don’t need that. One of you needs to eat somewhere else.
2: Family can be chosen by blood, but it can also be chosen by the heart. See, I know a lot of people say Thanksgiving is about family so you have to spend it with them. Thing is, some people get along with their blood families, and some don’t. If you don’t get along with the family blood chose, go be with the one your heart put together. Gather up the local orphans of the storm. Or, you know, you can even just spend the day alone if that’s what you truly prefer. There are times in life when knowing you can be on your own peacefully is the greatest achievement you can think of. If that’s the case this Thanksgiving, revel in it.
3: Just because it’s expected doesn’t mean it’s required. I can hear the chorus now ‘But I’m the one who cooks dinner!’ ‘My mom will throw fits if I don’t bake the pumpkin pie and then listen to her tell me I can’t have any!’ ‘My family won’t know what to do if I don’t come!’ Well, that’s their problem. Their expectations do not constitute an obligation on your part to meet them. Give them notice, certainly, that you’re making other plans, especially if you’re usually expected to make all or part of the feast. That’s only decent. How they react to your news is not your responsibility. Let go of it.
4: If you don’t eat it, you don’t have to cook it. Just because other people say Thanksgiving requires turkey or cranberries or pumpkin or whatever doesn’t mean it has to be on the table. If you’re a vegetarian then people coming to your table can just learn to accept that there won’t be any meat. If everyone in your family eats turkey only on Thanksgiving because they don’t actually like turkey, it’s more than okay to substitute ham or salmon or your fabulous ziti and tofu sausage casserole or whatever you do like to eat. The point isn’t the specific dishes, but the expression of appreciating the bounty available.
5: It’s okay to opt out altogether. Think there’s too much hoopla around Thanksgiving? Uncomfortable with the political ramifications? Recovering from binge eating disorder? Just plain hate any sort of organized holiday set up to say thanks for stuff? Then just say no to Thanksgiving. Spend your day doing ordinary things and eat an ordinary meal.
In short, free yourself from the ‘shoulds’ of Thanksgiving. Concentrate on what really does make you happy, make you thankful.