“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” ~ William Arthur Ward
Warning: This post mentions Eating Disorders
Rushing the Holidays
Before everyone gets those carving knives out, I swear I am not trying to hate on Thanksgiving. I know many people who love it and get mad at people (okay, me.) who “Rush the holidays.” I admit I have been in the Christmas spirit for close to a month, and no I am not sick of it at all. I love this time of year, just maybe not Thanksgiving (I know, I know) which many of us in the US will be celebrating next Thursday. For many in the US, Thanksgiving is the official kick off to Christmas with insane Black Friday Sales and all the Christmas festivities.
I know many people who are passionate about Turkey Day and I have gotten even more messages about perceived snubbing. I have also heard an awful lot about the holidays “staying in their lane” and even seen a meme stating that. The irony is that for many other countries, especially those in Europe, their Christmas festivities begin November First if not earlier, with Christmas markets popping up and decorations galore. The US is the only country that celebrates as well as uses their Thanksgiving to officially begin the Christmas Season.
Pros and Cons of Thanksgiving
No doubt people have their favorite holidays and that includes Thanksgiving. While some people might think I hold some (or a lot of) antipathy for Thanksgiving, I can understand why people love it. It is the one holiday that isn’t gift driven. It is a day for people to relax (unless you are cooking), watch football, spend time with family and friends, eat all the food and somewhere, hopefully before the tryptophan from the turkey kicks in, give thanks.
Yet, many of these reasons are why I don’t hold a lot of love for Thanksgiving. It isn’t that I am anti-Turkey Day. Holidays are a chance, if people are willing to take them, to slow down, appreciate family and friends and reflect. While many people rush home, (it is considered the busiest travel days of the year in the US) last year was the first time in five years, that I got to spend Thanksgiving with my family. For me the stress and hassle of coming home on the travel days from hell, was not worth losing my sanity.
All About The Food
Many people love Thanksgiving because it is all about da food. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie, it is a buffet of goodness, that while I can appreciate and indulge now, Thanksgiving use to give me major anxiety. It isn’t to say I needed to go hide in a corner and wait for the day to pass, but I could have done without a day that more then giving thanks, emphasized stuffing your face with rolls and seeing who could eat the most mashed potatoes.
As someone who was vegetarian for ten years, turkey held little appeal to me, and while I do eat meat now, (thanks to health reasons) I could honestly take or leave turkey, in fact I have even enjoyed tofurkey at some celebrations before. It is one meat that I never really missed and I have no desire to eat it now regardless of expectation.
Even more then whether I ate turkey, tofurkey, or even a turducken which shockingly I have never had, as someone who struggled with variations of eating disorders for fifteen years, celebrating a holiday that was and is so food-centric was not so much a celebration, but an all out battle with my demons. Giving thanks for food felt hypocritical and superficial when I loathed it and would vomit it up any chance I got and attempted to avoid consuming it at all other costs. Why on a day that was suppose to be a celebration would I want to surround myself with that reminder?
Thanksgiving can’t shoulder all the blame, while it might be the kick off to the holiday season, it is also the kick-off for every media outlet and magazine promoting fad diets, and quick hacks to fight those holiday pounds. From now until January morning shows, commercials, and check out aisles in grocery stores inundate us with tips on how not to gain weight, while still promoting all these recipes. They put pressure on us, make us feel guilty, all while sending us mixed messages for everything we put in our mouths when we should be having fun and enjoying ourselves because ’tis the season.
Understandably, Christmas can be stressful with all the consumerism, but Thanksgiving is stressful for those of us who have suffered from eating disorders or are going through recovery. A holiday that revolves around food, gratitude, and food again, it doesn’t offer much enjoyment or thankfulness if you are struggling. Christmas is much more diverse, and while yes it can be food-centric, that isn’t all there is.
I might be a broken record on this topic. I have written at length before about how I feel that we can and should be grateful EVERY day. There is always something, whether it is just being alive and being able to smell fresh air or drinking a cup of coffee in the morning. Which, let’s face it, I don’t think I can ever express enough gratitude for coffee. Every day I document what I am thankful for, regardless of how big or small, or yeah kinda stupid, like the coffee, but hey I am a coffeeholic.
It can be hard to be thankful, especially when you are going through something. But that is when you need it the most. While a reminder to stop and give thanks is nice, it shouldn’t be exclusive to Thanksgiving Day. Every day brings thankfulness and it is incredible what happens when you stop and realize that, no matter where you are in life.
Thanksgiving and I will never be bosom buds, but I no longer hate it like I use to. Instead of focusing on the aspects I loath or that give me anxiety, I embrace what I love, from the Macy’s Day Parade which I got to see in person several times, to friendsgivings, to yes even enjoying cooking and baking again, Thanksgiving is no longer a battle I fight, but negotiated peace with. In fact I am even excited, because for the second year in a row I get to spend it with my family after so many years spending it apart.
How do you feel about Thanksgiving? Is it your favorite holiday? Do you think the holidays need to “Stay in their lanes?” Do you try to be thankful everyday?