Why Bother Celebrating Thanksgiving

Every November, during the third Thursday of the year, we all go home to join our family for a fun evening of arguing politics over wet stuffing and dry turkey. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday of the year, and I’ll tell you why.

First of all, the classic thanksgiving food is overrated. Turkey isn’t that good. It’s unreasonably difficult to cook a turkey well, and the amount of time and effort it takes to make a good turkey far outweighs the enjoyment you’ll get from eating it.

I also don’t think that stuffing, and frankly most of the sides, is good, either. I keep trying to make myself like sweet potatoes and squash, and I don’t care for either. Green bean casserole is alright. The bread isn’t typically freshly homemade because the turkey takes up all the room in the oven.

However, I will admit that mashed potatoes usually are the show’s star, but gravy isn’t something I particularly enjoy. Then, there’s Mac and cheese, which isn’t a thanksgiving dish. It’s a year-round dish that happens to be made during Thanksgiving.

Finally, there’s the all-American pie. Pie isn’t anything special, either. I find myself eating it out of familial obligation but not because I like pie. I don’t particularly like the texture of mushy, usually lukewarm fruit.
You may think, “Abigail, maybe you have never had good Thanksgiving food.” You are wrong; I have had good food and always left Thanksgiving well-fed. I just think about holidays; I would rather have my mom’s post gifts biscuits and gravy than anything else. In fact, my mom’s cooking is so good I think it makes it more difficult to enjoy other foods when I know I could be having hers.

Then there is the chore of cooking. Usually, if we are hosting on Thanksgiving, we will do a whole spread. Turkey, corn, mashed potatoes, you name it, it’s on the table. I don’t think it’s worth all the effort that my mom puts into it. I would rather have a more low-key dinner if I meant I could spend that time with my mom.

Given the choice of spending thanksgiving in North Dakota, or poolside my answer is obvious.
Photo Credit | Abigail Faulkner

Millions of Americans are getting ready to get into the car or head to the airport to get wherever their family is. These aren’t typically super exciting trips. To quote my immeasurably wise mom, “Family is not relaxing.” Statista.com reported that last year over 53.4 million people traveled for Thanksgiving.

Travel can be the worst part of Thanksgiving. Hours in the car, stressful layovers, and coordinating with extended family can be a real nightmare. Traveling is my favorite part of Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t have much to do with the holiday itself.

My family has traveled to almost every Thanksgiving for a long time. This is the first time in probably over a decade that we won’t be traveling and the first time our family won’t be all together. It’s tough. Often my yearly highlights have been those trips we all took together, which is why I liked Thanksgiving.

As I was alluding to earlier, my family has been my favorite part about the holidays. What I valued about the holiday was how lucky I was to spend time with my loved ones. I am super privileged to have been able to spend this holiday in warm places and with loved ones. Last year, not only did my family travel to Mexico, but our extended family joined us there as well. Instead of an American thanksgiving spread, we had birria tacos that we bought from a local restaurant in a nearby town and feasted on that.

Because of how I was raised, Thanksgiving has always been more about family than food. Since my family moved to Portland this summer, we won’t be able to spend Thanksgiving together, and it has got me feeling like this is just another long weekend on my calendar.

It’s also important to note that some people need a better time visiting family. Whether it’s politics, tense family relationships, or the stress of being around many people, many students have a pretty miserable time over Thanksgiving.

Football and Parade
I know a lot of people have fun watching and playing football, but I am not one of them. I have never cared for football, and my favorite part of the super bowl is the halftime show. I cannot participate in any football conversation, and I will be attending my first college football game this week.

All this to say, football is clearly not an important part of my life, nor is it an exciting thanksgiving tradition for me.

Additionally, I don’t really have any interest in watching the thanksgiving day parade. It honestly seems like a waste of time. Maybe I don’t know what I am missing, but I have lived on this earth happily for the last 20 years and have not watched the parade.

Sordid History
When I was in high school, I was in AP World History, and the week of Thanksgiving, my teacher gave a special lecture on the history of Thanksgiving. Spoiler Alert: it’s not great. While it’s often celebrated as this holiday where two opposing groups celebrate their differences and give thanks to one another, that’s a surface-level take on what happened.

I won’t get too deep into the history of the holiday in this article since many others have already done the research and told the story. In summary, American colonizers have hurt the Native American and Indigenous community since we have arrived on the continent. Colonizers have not honored the treaties that they have made with them. Have taken advantage of Indigenous peoples kindness and hospitality. Thats essentially what Thanksgiving celebrates is how white settlers consistently misunderstand the Indigenous community and take advantage of them when possible.

It’s something to keep in mind when celebrating Thanksgiving.

All the things I truly enjoy about Thanksgiving don’t have much to do with Thanksgiving. It’s the red-headed stepchild of the winter holidays and is incomparable to Halloween, Christmas, or even Valentine’s Day.

The best part about this holiday isn’t the food or the traditions; for me, it’s always been about family, and a little southern sunshine never hurts.

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