26 November, 2015

Why I Hate Thanksgiving

Yes, I know what you're thinking. "Thanksgiving is great! The food, the parade, the food." But I hate it. In fact, the "Thanksgiving season" is one of my least favourite times of the year. Though autumn is my favourite season, I'm never in the Thanksgiving spirit. I never was, even as a kid. So let's dive in.

First of all, why do we even celebrate Thanksgiving? We probably are all familiar with the "pilgrims and Indians" story, with Squanto translating and everything. We imagine the pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe sitting around a large table laughing and eating delicious food and giving thanks. That's all fine and dandy. But that's not actually how Thanksgiving started. These people weren't looking to start a new tradition. They were just celebrating a good harvest (and they didn't even serve turkey--it was venison). This wasn't the first time a celebration was had, either. In the early seventeenth century, days of thanksgiving were held year round. Keep this thought in mind for later.

That still doesn't answer the question, so here's a little more history. In 1789, George Washington declared the 26 of November "Thanksgiving Day." (Hey, cool. That's Thanksgiving this year, too.) Washington's declaration had nothing to do with the pilgrims. This day of thanksgiving was for "public thanksgiving and prayer...for the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be." He also wanted people to count their blessings of independence post war. In 1863, after much pressure from the patriotic magazine editor and poet Sarah Hale, president Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to be an official holiday on the fourth Thursday of every November. 

Great. Now we have the background of Thanksgiving. Really, it seems like a lovely thing, having a day dedicated to giving thanks. But I'm not all about that. I'm all for being thankful but...well, let's just do this in list form. I'll get to that part.

Reasons why I don't like Thanksgiving:
  1. The food. *GASP* I hate Thanksgiving food. While people wait all year for turkey and stuffing and cranberries, I am less than eager each year to pull up my chair to the table. When I was a little kid, my mom and grandparents would always force me to eat some of the Thanksgiving turkey. I'm not a big fan of turkey, especially that of the Thanksgiving variety. So I revolted. I made my own holiday called "vegetarian day." I don't think I've had meat on Thanksgiving for...12, 13 years? I don't know. I'll keep that tradition alive and just eat mashed potatoes.
  2. The day after. Perhaps this is a different topic in and of itself, but whatever. I hate Black Friday. It has turned Thanksgiving into a consumer holiday. I hate consumer holidays. It's like everyone spends all month being so loving and thankful, then BOOM! Everything is rushed and greedy and buy-me-this and buy-me-that and oh-my-gosh-i-have-to-have-this-new-thing. No way, dude. I'm NOT all about that. Quick story: Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1939, in attempt to make the Christmas shopping season longer and to boost the economy in the last years of the depression, moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday in November, but two years later Thanksgiving was moved back to its original date. So it's not just today that Thanksgiving/Black Friday has been for consumers. 
  3. The Concept. Okay, this one probably makes me sound like a horrible person, but hear me out. This is probably the biggest issue I have with Thanksgiving. I'm not against being thankful. I'm not against that at all. What I am against, however, is devoting a holiday to an emotion and action you should be expressing year round. This also happens to be the reason I hate Valentine's day. The entire month of November I see people posting "30 Days of Thankfulness" as their statuses, people leaving their baristas and servers some extra cash as a token of thankfulness, or some other good deed to get them in the spirit. Am I condoning these things, absolutely not. I guess my biggest problem lies in the fact that people wait all year for this month and then decide to be thankful or gratuitous. Shouldn't we be celebrating and giving thanks year round? I get that this is a time to focus especially on being thankful and whatever, but I just can't get behind a concept that I think should be displayed year round.
These reasons may seem petty, and perhaps I should just swallow my tongue and offer a pretty smile and play along with tradition. I have nothing against tradition, and I respect the traditions of the holiday season. I like tradition.  Maybe this is the outcome of years and years of aversion to thanksgiving. I'm not sure. I just really don't like Thanksgiving.

I'm not saying you should feel guilty about liking Thanksgiving. I'm not saying that at all. I will plead with you on one matter: please don't wait until November to be thankful. I know it's a great time to take a breath and remember why you're thankful and to spend time with your loved ones and to eat disgusting food. Take this time seriously. Celebrate with all your heart. But once the clock strikes midnight, please don't forget to carry these thoughts with you daily.