Flipping the bird at Thanksgiving

It’s not that I’m an ingrate or fail to recognize the many unearned blessings in my life.

I simply want no part of Thanksgiving.

I don’t need the 4,500 calories that the Average American consumes in the carbohydrate- and gravy-laden meal served on the fourth Thursday of each November.

I don’t want to expend the time or money shopping for food, and I’m even less interested in spending days preparing it.

Instead, after having to cancel a visit to see my sister in Colorado because of work, I am spending Thanksgiving the way I wish I spent more weekends — with no plans at all.Flipped Bird

Turkey rebellion

Here are five reasons why sitting out this most overrated of holidays feels like the right thing to do this year.

No. 1: The food is predictable. Dry turkey, drier stuffing. The only color on the traditional Thanksgiving table comes from whatever centerpiece the hostess has assembled. Everything else is shades of brown and tan, like those suburban subdivisions I used to pass on my commute to work.

And what guru decreed that the traditions can never change? Put fresh green beans instead of canned in the infamous Midwestern casserole? Heresy. Bake the sweet potatoes with soy milk and ginger instead of butter and brown sugar? I made that mistake only once with my German-Catholic in-laws.

No. 2: I hate football. It’s boring. It’s slow. Its players have inflated pocketbooks and egos. I’ve wasted way too many Thanksgiving “holidays” pretending to be interested because the noise of the television drowned out any conversation in the room.

If women spent Thanksgiving watching Norma Rae, Tootsie or name-your-favorite-Meryl-Streep-movie at full volume while men overworked themselves in overheated kitchens, Thanksgiving would have been cancelled years ago.

No. 3: Thanksgiving is a sexist holiday. (See above.) Dad’s job — the role of any father from a bygone era — was to sharpen the knife, carve the bird and later ask from the easy chair when pie would be served. Mom’s job was everything else.

Even in my own nuclear family, with sons raised to be progressive, the men turn to me (the one who works full time and is in graduate school) with the wide-eyed question: “So, what are we doing this year?”

No. 4: I feel too somber to host or attend a meal. My mother died in September, and I think the best way to honor the woman who introduced me to feminism and the necessity of breaking social codes is to avoid repeating the obligation she dreaded every year.

In fact, Thanksgiving hasn’t been the same since my husband’s sister and children’s godmother, Peggy Studer, died in January 2011. Peggy was the family’s center. She held us together. Sure, she cooked too many potatoes and preferred pumpkin pie to pecan, but her humor and bold bitching about the timeless traditions never failed to make them fun.

No. 5: I don’t need Thanksgiving to remind me to be grateful. A Buddhist friend introduced me to the practice of gratitude in 2010. We spent a year exchanging a gratitude list by e-mail every night.

On the inevitably difficult days — those low times that later help us recognize real joy — I can always lift my spirits by reciting or writing down a list of why I’m thankful.

For my health, my home, my husband and grown sons, my job, my friends and family, my silly dogs, my sense of purpose: I am truly grateful. And that’s enough for me to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

 

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5 thoughts on “Flipping the bird at Thanksgiving

  1. Karen

    Luv this – because we have a truly “American” family, with divorces, significant others, step parents, plus we live thousands of miles from each other ( oldest daughter across the pond), I am spending the day with youngest daughter with as little faulderal as possible. However, she did insist we could not give up the sweet potatoes with butter, brown sugar and OMG marshmallows.😊

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  2. Penny Gage Reinders

    I agree with the food part of this, but Thanksgiving gives me a chance to spend the day with my entire family and nothing is better then seeing those 4 grandkids together – it’s my version of “flipping the bird” – my daughter is cooking this year (that torch has been passed and I couldn’t be happier about it) and I get to sit back and just enjoy my children and especially, the grandchildren

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  3. laurasilverconsulting

    Sorry, Amy, I love Thanksgiving. But if those five points truly define Thanksgiving for you, by all means, redefine it — or toss it. We’re a family of four but have no family nearby, so that’s been bittersweet for us. We’ve struggled as holiday “orphans” in Minnesota, where it’s hard to find others in a similar situation, at least at this age. But the last several years we’ve been taken in by friends, and it’s sublime. No gift giving (except maybe a hostess gift, and we bring the stuffing and homemade rye bread), no religious obligation, no football (that WOULD be dreadful), and no competitive decorating. I know you’ll find your perfect (non)observance this year. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  4. Mary (Weck) Davidson

    Much food for thought here, with no calories! Thanks, from another mom of boys only. Do you think that makes a difference? No one to pass traditions on to?

    Actually, we don’t celebrate Christmas (sometimes we celebrate Solstice if we can manage to get together then) so Thanksgiving has been our family gathering time. I often work the holiday so we gather when we can. We are quite spread out geographically which makes time together more precious. I will take any opportunity to see my sons! Even if I have to cook all day!

    Mary

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