Before I go into defending our family’s decision for skipping Thanksgiving this year, I should say I love the holidays. I love the classic family gatherings, getting to see relatives I haven’t seen in a long time, and eating too much pumpkin pie. And when Thanksgiving became a holiday that was just our nuclear family unit it was more out of necessity, and not our choice.
But this year we are purposely not celebrating in the conventional way.
When we moved to Charleston we knew our holidays would be different. We’re hundreds of miles away from any family and we knew traveling that far, just for a long weekend would be a bad idea. We were lucky enough to have friends that welcomed us to their home every year to celebrate and we enjoyed making our own community in the area.
But as years passed, friends moved, lives changed, and then we were all told to stay at home for over a year. The meaning of the holidays shifted for us. For the last two years, we have been celebrating Thanksgiving at our home as a family of four. At first, I was sad that we wouldn’t be able to have a traditional Thanksgiving surrounded by friends and family. It was all we had ever known. But then I realized being just the four of us made for a very easy-going holiday.
Let Me Explain.
Last year, we knew we had to stay home and we wouldn’t have any guests over. Our friends we usually visit were unavailable and the other guests we normally would have invited were traveling. So, instead of the traditional turkey, we opted to make a list of everyone’s favorite foods. Then, we made one of each, there were deviled eggs, pizza, dumplings, and a small turkey. My kids loved it, and they actually ate something other than bread, which made me happy.
The rest of the day was centered around being together and appreciating the things we had. My kids wrote thankful letters to their grandparents and other family. We had a family movie night, and the kids went to bed at their regular time. Last year was the very first year in my whole life that I had nowhere to be, and no schedule to be on for Thanksgiving Day. And even though it is still one of my favorite holidays, I did not miss the stress that comes with it.
The stress around this season, and having to travel far to see relatives for a day, and the stress of having to plan everything while keeping your kids happy is something I think we should all sit down and talk about. I would never tell anyone the right or wrong way to celebrate anything, but I would say that everyone should think about the right way to celebrate for their family. For some of us, that’s a huge family gathering with lots of food, and for others, it might be staying home to catch up on some rest. For my family, it’s spending time with our children, probably taking them to the park if the weather is nice, and making sure we don’t forget about what we’re actually thankful for without getting wrapped up in what others think we should be thankful for.
I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving Day, however you decide to celebrate with your family and friends.