It’s Thanksgiving, and normally you’d be spending the days leading up to the Holiday thinking about how you plan to avoid awkwardness, or coping with the anxiety of travel, or laughing about your family’s traditions. Even though you might be relieved to avoid a lot of this hassle, I’m sure there’s a part of you that’s sad about missing out on it all.
That’s why we’re here today: To take lemons and make lemonade, or more appropriate to the season, to take pumpkins and make pumpkin spice latte about this situation. This might be the only year in your adult life where you have a sensible, plausible excuse to avoid gathering — guilt free. This is a precious gift! Take some time for yourself, recharge, and know that we’re all in this together. Every one of us will have our plans altered, and that can be really fun!
In case you’re having a hard time seeing the silver lining here, let me help.
No. 1: You can stuff yourself with whatever you want, all day long.
Theoretically you have this freedom every day, but there’s normally at least a smidge of emotional guilt by, say, eating an entire large pizza and cheesy bread by yourself in one sitting. Not that I’ve ever done anything like that [nervous laugh].
The point is, you don’t need to adhere to anyone else’s ideal of what the perfect meal is. Want turkey? Eat turkey. Want tacos? Get you some tacos. Want to eat Cincinnati-style chili? You’re a horrible monster, but the constitution grants you that right.
Not only do you get to eat what you want, but you have the social freedom to eat as much as you want. Thanksgiving is a feast day, and should be celebrated as such — even when we can’t all gather in person.
No. 2: Absolutely no political talk.
Easily one of the scariest Thanksgiving minefields, the inevitable political talk at the table is always bad. Can you even imagine how bad that would be this year? Maybe some of you are lucky enough to have family and friends who all share the same political ideology that you do, but many of us don’t have that luxury.
There’s always a person at Thanksgiving, normally an ancillary character like “oft-unseen uncle” or “lonely neighbor” who doesn’t get the normal dynamic of a gathering that plans to ignore politics for a day. Then, before long, comfort and social lubrication leads to them feeling emboldened enough to start sharing their views.
Before you know it, Uncle Tom is rattling off his flat Earth theories and reasons why the global economy is controlled by a shadowy cabal of lizard people. At this point regular family members look for excuses to leave the room, normally under the guise of seconds, until you’re trapped alone while Tom is telling you about who he follows on Parler.
You are in complete control this year. Not only can you avoid the situations, but even if you make a Zoom call to the family you can just hang up the call and pretend there was an internet outage when things go bad.
No. 3: No fighting over the TV.
Similar to politics, you’re lucky if everyone at your gathering wants to watch the same thing. Some people might be into football, others wants to binge watch horrible Hallmark Christmas movies, and if there are kids you’re almost assured that the one TV in the house will be dominated by Puppy Dog Pals all day long.
This year it’s different. Want to play video games? Play video games. Want to binge watch all six seasons of Schitt’s Creek in a day? Go for it (and I highly recommend it). In a day where we normally have to relinquish control, we get to keep it for our own. That’s a beautiful thing.
I know that in 2020 we all have phones that allow us to basically watch whatever we want, whenever we want — but nobody wants to be the person at Thanksgiving who gets branded as anti-social because they’re staring at their phone all day, instead of participating in the day’s festivities.
No. 4: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that we shouldn’t take things for granted. I have a feeling we’re going to come out the other end of this mess a little more grateful, more humble, and more appreciative of the things, and people we haven’t dedicated enough time to. We’ll get to reboot in 2021 and celebrate bigger, and harder than ever before.
I know this year has been brutally rough. Don’t let it all beat you down. Do whatever you need to in order to make yourself happy, and if that’s not possible, that’s okay too. There’s no shame feeling sad, or upset. Just know that you’re valuable, you’re loved, and this crap won’t last forever.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.