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Why I Don't Celebrate Thanksgiving

In case you haven't heard, in America we have this holiday that's celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year. This holiday is called "Thanksgiving".

The general idea of Thanksgiving is to gather together (usually it's a family thing, but I suppose friends do it sometimes), sit around a big table that's heaping with more food than everyone could actually eat, think about your blessings and all the things you're thankful for (people used to go around the table one by one and actually say these things, but I'm pretty sure everyone's just been focused only on the food since about 1998...), then proceed to gorge yourselves to the point of shame. Then everyone collapses their bloated bodies in the living room to unbutton their pants and watch the Macy's Day Parade, some sort of sporting event, or other Thanksgiving specials on TV, and gear up for America's greatest shopping sale frenzy the very next day (or later that evening in most cases now), where everyone has forgotten all about what they're thankful for and turn, instead, to thinking about more stuff they want (because everyone else has it - or WILL have it) - and will often risk personal injury to themselves and others in order to obtain these things.

Yeah, okay.

Maybe it's just me (I should hope not, but who knows...), but I'm embarrassed by that description. I could easily see being someone from a foreign country reading that description of our "holiday" and thinking, "So...wait...you people have a holiday devoted to community gluttony followed by an evening of sloth, and then followed by a day of sheer greed where people literally trample over each other to get things others will be envious of?"

Yes. Yes, we do. We Americans proudly represent four of the seven deadly sins all in one weekend. And since we're proud of that...does that make it five of the sins, then? Bonus points if this weekend you get in a huge fight with your family and then have sex with someone after Black Friday shopping!

You can sugarcoat it any way you want, but that is what this weekend is in this country.

But all of that cynical nonsense aside...ever since I was old enough to opt out of Thanksgiving meals with my family, I have been choosing to do so. And as an adult on my own, I've never celebrated Thanksgiving. If you refuse to acknowledge my earlier description of this Pilgrim Pumpkin holiday, then allow me to provide my not-so-cynical reasons for choosing to omit this "holiday" from my life.

I was born in the morning. As studies show, people born in the morning are more likely to be "night owls", just as people born at night are more likely to be "morning people". Yay, science. My natural biological clock makes me wide awake right around the time it gets dark, and doesn't allow me to feel sleepy until the sun starts to come up. I've always had trouble living a "sleep at night" lifestyle. It feels very backwards to me. Thanksgiving break meant no school for four days - which meant I could go to sleep when I naturally wanted to instead of unnaturally forcing it to happen.

{Just as a tangent, here... night people aren't "lazy" just because we prefer to sleep until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. It means that we're up during the night doing the things that normal folk do during the day. We're the most productive at night rather than the day and we use that time to work, shop (24-hour grocery stores were made for us), clean, read, write, draw, paint, sculpt, or bake - yes, we're quite the creative bunch. Anyway...}

My mother, on the other hand, is very much a morning person (yup...she was born at night), and naturally wakes up with the sun. When I was growing up, it was just me and her. My parents were divorced and I had no siblings. My mom usually hosted a Thanksgiving meal at our house for her parents, my dad, and a friend or two of hers. This meal was usually around noon.

Noon.

Noon to me is like 2am for other people. So, I've been asleep for maybe a few hours when my mom wakes me up because the family will be there soon to eat.

There are several problems with this scenario.

1. I've never eaten very much. I have never struggled with an eating disorder - I just have never felt hungry more than a couple of times a day, and I get full really fast. The concept of All-You-Can-Eat-Buffets has always been lost on me. One salad and I'm done. If I even attempt to eat more than my body wants to, I will feel violently ill. And I have never been skinny, by any means. In fact, I have some stubborn belly fat that's been my close personal friend since infancy.

2. I've rarely been hungry when I wake up. I only actually feel hungry and want to eat maybe two or three hours after I fully wake up. Even that aside, this will essentially be my "breakfast" meal. Traditional Thanksgiving food is not exactly breakfast fare.

3. I've always had a social anxiety problem where my stomach locks up in public or around people. Very rarely was I able to actually eat in restaurants or around people, even as a kid. At school, I never ate in the cafeteria - if I ate lunch at all, I took it to the band room and ate alone. I still struggle with this as an adult, but it's gotten better now. I still prefer to just not dine out, though, because of this.

4. I'm REALLY picky about my food preferences. I only like the taste of certain foods and heavily dislike everything else - because of this, I'm a routine eater - I eat pretty much the same meals every day, and I enjoy it. I've always hated the taste of hot turkey - I like deli turkey, like for a sandwich, but hot turkey makes me gag. I dislike the taste of breaded stuffing. Cranberries are horribly sour to me. Green been casserole is like the devil. I don't have a problem with mashed potatoes, but I'm lactose intolerant and mashed potatoes are made with milk and butter.

So, here I am...freshly woken up after only a few hours of sleep (at my equivalent of 2 in the morning...) - I groggily hoist myself out of my comfortable bed, stagger out my bedroom door, barely able to even remember my own name... and now I have to be shackled to a table and, while barely yet awake, be expected to socialize with people while trying to force down more food in one sitting than I could eat in one day, that I'm not even hungry for, that I dislike the taste of, and with my clamped stomach protesting the entire way.

But hey...at least we all got to quietly watch TV and relax afterwards, right?

Wrong.

We didn't have TV in our house. That's right, folks - I grew up without the luxury of television. I'm actually very pleased with this, as it is still something I live my life devoid of, and I couldn't be happier. But I digress - in our house, we just moved to the living room and sat there engaged in quiet awkward conversation.

Did I mention my entire family is comprised of quiet introverts who hardly ever get together? Don't misunderstand - I love my family - there's no drama and we all like each other. We're just really quiet and private people who don't really socialize. We're like an entire family of "Black Sheep". If there was a talkative extrovert in our family, THAT person would be the Black Sheep.

Thanksgiving was never a day of merriment, warm gatherings, and good food for me. It was something I dreaded and always wished I could get out of. In fact, I think there were three or four years where I actually fell ill with a cold a day or two before Thanksgiving, if my memory serves me (which sure didn't help the situation). I know there exists more than one photo of our family at the meal table where I look like half-asleep death warmed up.

So, given my experiences with Thanksgiving while growing up, adding in my personal feelings about the purpose of this holiday (see description at the top), I'm not this season's biggest advocate - just in case you haven't picked up on that, yet.

But for all of you with social families, normal eating habits, and preferred sleep schedules - I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. And be safe while enjoying your Black Friday shopping! :)

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