Happy Thanksgiving? You tell Me.

By Valerie Rice | November 26, 2020

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that is just…well, you love it or you hate it. As far as what we are celebrating, I’m pretty sure it has something to do with taking advantage of Native Amerians and eating a ton of food. The fun factor is entirely dependent on your definition of fun, and how much work you put into the holiday. And I mean WORK. I hate this holiday, not going to lie, so much so that I usually don’t bother celebrating it. My kids wanted to this year and are busily cooking a turkey and who knows what else in my kitchen. And That’s cool, because they wanted to.As for why? They just like the idea of eating a ton of food and playing card games in their jammies. So why do you celebrate?

PEER PRESSURE

I have said before that traditions are peer pressure from dead people. And, more often than not, living relatives. I, for one, am not a fan of tradition unless I make it up myself. This pressure to engage in social activities can be quite upsetting to some people. The first group I am thinking of are people with mental illness. Not everyone enjoys large gatherings as anxiety and panic attacks play a central role during these times. Additionally, there are people known as introverts. We (I am an intense introvert) do not enjoy being around others ANY day of the week, and it has nothing to do with mental illness and everything to do with people. This is a legitimate feeling and one we should recognize. All you extroverts out there can go forth and mingle, but I am curling up in my bed with a book. Why? Because it makes me happy. People, on the other hand, do not.

TRAINING

I’m not talking about a cool cooking montage for making the perfect turkey, I am referring to how we grew up. Most families attempt to instill a love of tradition into their children, and force get-togethers and holidays routinely. That’s fine, and it works out for some of them. And those people are trained to enjoy the holidays. And then the rest of us experience childhood trauma or have other negative experiences in our youths that train us to despise the holidays, because they remind us of negative events and misery. So we are less than pleased with the holiday decor and expectations, become grumpy, and avoid celebrations. It happens, so be kind and try not to judge or “fix” the lack of holiday spirit; this isn’t a Hallmark movie, you really can’t help. 

FAMILY MATTERS

There are two aspects of family that can negatively affect your views on Thanksgiving and other holidays. One, the previously mentioned trauma, which makes holidays unbearable, and two, the lack of family. Wanting to celebrate the holidays and not having family can be devastating. It leads to feelings of isolation and loneliness as well as contributes to depression. Why cook a large meal for just yourself? Being isolated makes it incredibly hard to feel thankful. If you are one of those people that has family and love to complain about it, lucky for you, but remember that there are others who don’t have a family gathering to complain about attending. If it really is too stressful of an event, you can always skip it. Seriously, nobody says you have to go (see peer pressure). 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Well, I like watching cartoons and eating froot loops, but that’s just a favorite pastime. If you can’t get to a family gathering, or you would rather not but want to make an appearance, consider video calling. That way you are there in spirit but you don’t have to leave your house. If you want nothing to do with your family, consider visiting a friend. If marking this day is just too much, then don’t. Seriously, don’t. Turn off your phone, if you can, and act as if this is any other day. Work, if possible, and just stick to your routine.  Making it a calm, or normal day can eliminate the stress the holiday brings. However, if the holiday becomes overwhelming, please contact the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Whatever you do this holiday, be it indulging in a feast or eating cereal and watching cartoons, make sure it is something that you WANT to do. The “rules” are not actually real, nobody can make you social or happy unless you want to be. You get to be in charge of your own life, and in control of your own happiness. I am off to find my slippers, until next time, Be Well!

Published by vrice2010

A mother, an author, a nerd. After many years working in the fields of mental health and developmental disabilities, graduating from the University of Phoenix, and pouring my talents into my local community, I decided to spread my wings and reach a wider audience.

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