Rethink Thanksgiving

The title of an email that popped in my box this week was “Rethink Thanksgiving.” The eventual subject of the email turned out to be a using a non-brining method to cook your turkey and new twists on other classic Thanksgiving recipes like making a pumpkin tart instead of pie. I was expecting a whole lot more. The email still espoused eating the turkey and gathering. (However, the email was from a Chef and magazine, so really my expectations were possibly too high for the content.)

I am challenged to rethink Thanksgiving this year by chosen necessity. We will be on vacation during Thanksgiving. We will not be with family and friends. Our vacation is just our family of 3. We like to vacation, and we like to explore new restaurants in the process. However, the price per person of what is being asked at restaurants and other places serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal made me rethink if all of the traditional Thanksgiving food is necessary for me to have Thanksgiving be meaningful. Heck, I don’t even like pumpkin pie and neither do the other two members of my family, so, I think I’ve decided the food isn’t the key to the day. The key is spending Thanksgiving with my family.


Instead of eating a huge Thanksgiving meal, we are planning to

  • Run/walk a Turkey Trot 5k as a family in our vacation location and donate food to the local food pantry as part of the Turkey Trot activities.
  • Hike in the mountains surrounding the area we’ll be in. We’ll pack in our lunch, take our camera, and enjoy the fresh air.
  • Attend a Chinese Acrobats show on Thanksgiving afternoon.
  • Eat a dinner in our hotel room. What meal? TBD. If we go out, our only options seem to be Thanksgiving themed and start at upwards of $35 per person, so I may bring our small crockpot and cook a small pork roast while we’re hiking. We can surely handle pork roast, raw veggies, fruit, and bread for Thanksgiving. We might even splurge for a dessert (not pumpkin pie, though) from a local bakery.
  • Decide as a family what charity we’d like to donate to as a result of saving money by not going out to eat on Thanksgiving Day.

So, I urge you to Rethink Thanksgiving in a way that allows you and your family to enjoy the day and still have it be meaningful to you. (No, I’m not saying you have to. If you’re happy to have all of the traditional things that come with Thanksgiving be part of Thanksgiving, by all mean, keep it up.) However, if you are looking for a change, start Rethinking Thanksgiving now.

  • Does Rethinking Thanksgiving mean nixing the turkey altogether and making something that doesn’t produce enough leftovers to serve you, your family, and an entire village in a 3rd world country for an entire week (some of which will inevitably get thrown out and wasted due to turkey fatigue)?
  • Does it mean spreading the cooking responsibilities out and asking everyone to bring a simple dish to pass so that one person isn’t stuck in the kitchen all day in preparation?
  • Does it mean giving up your traditional Thanksgiving to volunteer at a community meal that serves people in need?
  • Does it mean getting out of your house and enjoying nature instead of plopping yourself in front of the endless barrage of football games on TV?
  • Does it mean declaring Thanksgiving a family game day and having a modest meal and playing together all day?
  • Does it mean inviting others who have nowhere to go (and that you wouldn’t necessarily usually include) to your celebration—whatever form it will take?
  • Does it mean including a worship service in your faith community as part of your day?

Let me know your ideas for Rethinking Thanksgiving. Admittedly, I will likely miss the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this year, but if I really need it, it’ll be back next year.

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