thanksgiving table set with a turkey on a heart platter

Why Thanksgiving Is My Favorite Holiday

There’s something so special about Thanksgiving. Like many holidays, we have the special foods and hopefully quality time with people that we love. But for me, it doesn’t have the pressure of other holidays, the expectations. And of course, I get to take a day and reflect on how much for which I am thankful.

Thanksgiving back in the day

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving wasn’t a shopping holiday. Sure, people may have gone to the mall the day after just to get out of the house, take a break from nonstop eating and football watching, and just stretch their legs. But Thanksgiving weekend shopping wasn’t the competitive sport that it is today. Who woke up the earliest?! Who just stayed up all night?! Who got the best deals?!

Thanksgiving, a time for food and family

No, Thanksgiving was just a low-key holiday where you could enjoy all the carbs you liked in as many forms as you could conjure. We made family visits, but also just stayed home and spent time together. We didn’t have to shop or open gifts or worry about if the gifts would be liked or that we spent too much (or too little). There was no pressure because it was just Thanksgiving.

Practicing gratitude during Thanksgiving

It’s definitely cheesy, but I always enjoyed those conversations about “what are we thankful for.” I especially liked it when someone dared to dig deep in their reflections, to be honest about surviving a health scare or accident or some surprising event from the last year. I always felt like these life challenges were too glossed over, but at Thanksgiving we have our chance. We have a day where we can say “phew” or “glad that’s over” or “it may be over, but I have been altered by this experience,” or some variation. It was the day to get real and be real.

It’s hard work being jolly

Christmas is great. It’s all perky and jolly. It’s filled with cookies and eggnog. It’s all about being happy (or pretending to be). It can also be a high-pressure holiday to either participate or fake your way through all the happy. Not everyone is having a good time. Not everyone can be that jolly. Don’t get me wrong—I have fun at Christmas and enjoy myself. But I also can see the stress that it can cause.

I prefer Thanksgiving

So, I truly do prefer Thanksgiving, both as a holiday that doesn’t come with all the emotional baggage and pressure to be happy, and as a moment where one can take stock (if you choose) to really explore the challenges of the last year. It still comes with a great feast (pumpkin pie!) and possibly family time, but less of the requirements that Christmas traditions may bring.

While there are various stories about the origins of Thanksgiving, I prefer to set them aside and dwell on my own meaning. For me, it’s a time to spend quality time with people I love and to be thankful for my life. I reflect on the challenges of the previous year, am thankful for coming through them, and take account of the blessings I have.

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