As Thanksgiving approaches, just about everywhere you look there are blog posts and Facebook posts of Thanksgiving recipes. There are “what are you thankful for?” posts. And those are all great, but for some, Thanksgiving is a time of great anxiety and great sadness. People have to go to family functions missing a loved one who used to be there shining a light on everything they touched and now, everything just seems blah. Some are ridiculously anxiety-ridden to even have to go to a family function because function is what it lacks the most. Be loving with those people. If they are not feeling the holiday, don’t feel like it is your personal duty to change their mind. Just hug them and tell them you understand.
I don’t feel that way. I don’t dread Thanksgiving the way some do. But I don’t necessarily look forward to it.
I could totally live without it. Partly because I think it’s cruel and inhumane to celebrate the raping and pillaging of Native Americans by European Settlers, but its got a solid root in our history and so we celebrate it by forgetting why and how it really came about and calling it a day to be thankful for all that we have and so we overeat and overdrink to the point where we are miserable. We spend all day long cooking for people we wish would run out of gas on their way to our house or at the very least, get a flat tire and settle on Chinese food instead. We go visit in-laws who we’d rather have our fingernails pulled out one by one than to endure another five minutes in a room with people telling us we can’t do anything right. And we are supposed to be happy about it. It’s the American way.
I don’t mind Thanksgiving. Mostly because it’s one of the few times during the year that all my siblings are in the same room together. Sure we get together occasionally for no reason, but usually one or two of us are missing. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the big two where everyone usually shows up even if it is just to show face. So I don’t hate Thanksgiving.
But if you are struggling with emotions of dread for the days ahead, I do have a challenge for you. While you are thinking about all the things you are thankful for, go ahead and examine all the things you are not thankful for, the things you are dreading. Examine all the toxic things and people in your life. And then don’t wait until the New Year to start cleaning out your metaphorical closets. If I’ve learned anything over the last couple years, it is this: You have to take care of you.
It’s fine for you to be the one everyone runs to when they need something or when they feel bad and want to feel better, but how many of those people are a phone call away when you need a shoulder? You should not feel bad for limiting your time with or cutting off people who are just takers. Relationships are a two-way street. Whether it is a marriage, a friendship, a sibling relationship, even a relationship with a grown child. You can’t feel bad for not being there for people who only want you there when they need you.
Self-care is one of the keys to being abundantly happy. And just as you have to take care of your mind, you have to take care of your body. So please, please, please, don’t starve yourself for the next two days in anticipation of the binging you are going to be doing Thursday. Take all the food in stride. It’s ok to overeat some, but don’t eat yourself sick, especially if you’ve been on a strict eating regimen. And especially if you are going to go home and beat yourself up for having three plates at grandma’s house. And please, please, please, know that it is OK for you to say no to going to the family function and taking your kids to the movie instead. It’s OK for you to not have Turkey, or Ham, or Pumpkin pie, or Sweet Potato pie. It’s OK to make a pizza. It’s OK if Thanksgiving is just another Thursday to you. Don’t allow people to make you feel bad for not celebrating it the way they think you should. Just don’t.
This is all just my version of practical advice from an impractical human, but I think looking out for yourself at all costs is becoming more and more important especially in a world that gives very few fucks about you. I’m not saying to adopt a “fuck everyone” outlook, I am just saying to adopt a “fuck everyone who doesn’t bring value to you” outlook. And look out for yourself and your mental, physical, and spiritual health. You know what’s best for you. Don’t wait until New Year’s Day to start working on getting more of it into your life.