It’s not that I’m cynical or mean-spirited – it really isn’t that. It’s just that I cannot abide Thanksgiving. To me, it’s seems like a perfectly good waste of a holiday. Can I? Can I please go and spend hours and hours in the kitchen (like I don’t spend enough time in there already) cooking for a bunch of people who will sit down, inhale the food and leave the table approximately seven minutes later? Sure, they will offer to clean, but they don’t know where anything goes or how to stack my dishwasher properly, so I will end up doing that, too. I’m sure there are culinary people who love this holiday, and that’s great. I am not one of them. I eat to live.
All other holidays have a kind of give and take aspect to them. They are reciprocal. Or, as in the case of July 4th, they’re plain old fashioned fun, with an element of danger associated with them in the form of borderline illegal fireworks. Any time you have family together, trapped in an enclose space, there is bound to be drama. Christmas is different because there is a built in checks and balances system. You can’t really be horrible to your mom, because she just bought you an iPhone 5s. You can’t really roll your eyes too hard at your annoying sister because she took the time to knit you that scarf. Presents are a great leveler. You feel generous at Christmas time. You have more patience. There is a holiday spirit that is pervasive. Not so with Thanksgiving which is tantamount to hours of grunt work where football is the only pay off. Unless you are my friend Claire, this is not a pay off to me. Meh.
I would like to offer some alternatives to Thanksgiving, or rather, some different approaches to Thanksgiving which would lead to an environment which is much more conducive to actually feeling thankful. And isn’t that the real point of it all?
- Two Halloweens instead. Doesn’t your heart melt when you see those little kids come to your door dressed all cute? Little ladybugs and Buzz Lightyears… even the inappropriate teen witch and Cinderella costumes have a certain charm. I love Halloween. It’s the one holiday where you give things out to strangers and and expect nothing in return. I propose that we just have another Halloween instead of Thanksgiving.
- Can’t we just be thankful in a restaurant? Another idea I have is that it should be illegal to spend Thanksgiving at home. Every restaurant in the country would have to do their version of a Thanksgiving meal, even if that interpretation included Asian noodles, calamari, or similarly non-traditional fare (actually, that probably makes this idea even cooler). If someone else (who was being paid for their hard work, mind you) made me dinner and did the washing up, I would feel so much more inclined to feel thankful towards my family, thereby avoiding the passive aggressive “No, no, it’s fine, I’ll just do it myself” routine I find myself in every year.
- How about we can only celebrate Thanksgiving in a tropical location? Some white fish with mango instead of turkey, sticky rice instead of mashed potatoes, some fresh fruit instead of pie (well, even I don’t know if I can go for that one). This route is so much healthier and more fun. I feel so much more thankful for everything that’s going on in my life when I’m a little bit tanned, the sun is shining and I have a boozy cocktail with a little umbrella in it.
- If we have to have Thanksgiving at home, I propose that adults are exempt from preparing this meal. We can sit around and watch TV while the kids do all the work. It really is the perfect solution. We don’t give our kids enough credit for what they can do in the kitchen. Did you see Masterchef Junior? Come on. As long as we have a fire extinguisher at the ready, what could go wrong?
- How about we take all the money we were going to spend on the Thanksgiving meal and travel and instead, donate it it to a charity that gives back to Native American or First Nations communities? How about that? Seems like considering the origins of Thanksgiving and how badly the indigenous people here got screwed, it feels a little tacky to celebrate it, no?
- I also propose that we change Thanksgiving into an epistolary holiday. There is no celebration per say- but instead you hand write thank you letters to all the important people in your life and all the ways in which you are thankful for them. I like this idea because it seems very Heatley Cliff-ish and also a letter lasts much longer than the aforementioned seven minute meal. It doesn’t cost anything. It isn’t commercial. At the same time, you get something to treasure for a lifetime.
- What if we changed Thanksgiving Day to Stay In Bed Or Sit On The Couch And Watch Movies Day? You still get a day off. You can still invite family and friends and the stress level would be eliminated completely, unless you were watching a movie with peril in it. People, you know how I feel about movies with lots of peril.
- I would be open to a day spent with so many loved ones as long as we did so in complete silence. Is that too weird? I don’t know, I think there is something rather lovely about a more contemplative Thanksgiving where we cannot speak for 24 hours. It would certainly put an end to fighting, maybe even make it more spiritual. We could call it Nunmonkforaday instead.
- Taking the above a step further, I think it would be a great idea if instead of Thanksgiving being a family oriented holiday, it’s one we have to spend in total solitude. We don’t have a holiday dedicated to being alone. This concept really works for everyone. The single folk wouldn’t have to scramble or awkwardly hint to get an invitation somewhere. The married people get a break from one another. It’s actually genius.
- Finally, how about this. Instead of having one day where we give thanks, how about we make every single day about being thankful for all the blessings we have in our life. What if we all make a concerted effort to stop and take the time throw our gratitude out into the universe at least once a day? We wouldn’t need Thanksgiving at all. The purists of course would hate it, but the turkeys would be happy.
Well, I don’t think my ideas are going to happen in the next couple of weeks, but there is always next year. Until then I will simply say Happy Nunmmonkforaday!
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