As is often the case, my daughters are responsible for me making changes in my standard operating procedures. The latest is re-thinking Thanksgiving. In the past, this day of thanks has been known for an overabundance of food, a lot of traffic on the roads coming and going, and long afternoon naps after overdoing the whole routine. There was always an oversized turkey on the table and too much of everything else. And it was fun.
This year, the kids raised some interesting questions and suggested options:
- Can this not be an overindulgent food fest? How about regular healthy, simple meals and more time to relax together?
- How can we make new traditions for this celebration that takes into account who we are and what we value?
- Does it make sense to hit the roads via car or bus and deal with unmanageable traffic? Let’s have a family get-together on another day and do it our way.
So we’re in the process of re-creating the holiday or perhaps making a new one. I’m excited about finding a way to make this new celebration work. As a kid, I never questioned how colonization affected the Native Americans. Without being disgustingly politically correct, I do think about this issue and have doubts about celebrating the takeover. I think I need to do some more reading about this and understand what really happened in 1621 and what were the intended and unintended consequences.
It seems that the first Thanksgiving was in appreciation of not starving during that difficult year of survival in a new land. Then it grew and grew and grew… more food on the table, larger venues, over the top in so many ways. Even the average size of the turkey has exploded; anything less than 25 pounds looks like a Cornish hen. An assortment of pies now await on the sidebar, not just the one cherished pumpkin or apple treat. Thanksgiving is on steroids, and it’s less satisfying, even though we’re stuffed.
I’m thinking that reshaping this holiday does fit into my quest for simplicity and pared down living. I don’t like what Thanksgiving has become, and it’s time for a change. Stripping away the excess and recalibrating the holiday is in order. For us, that will mean treating food as healthy fuel. It also will be quality time together without stressful travel. We’ll find a creative project to work on together… maybe hats and scarves for the homeless or birdfeeders for the feathered critters. Needless to say, we won’t be hustling out in the week hours on Black Friday to hit the sales. We’re gravitating back to basics, and I’m thrilled that we’re doing it as a family. That’s something to be thankful about.