A Turkeyless Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the first celebration of the holiday season for most of us. For me, it’s the first time my family comes together since the warm months and summer celebrations. The past three months go by without any thought. We are finally settled in routines and adjusted to the new school year.

Every year on Thanksgiving my family and I attend an annual dinner at my uncle Steve ’s and aunt Lucille’s home. It’s our tradition. He makes the same casserole, (I spend all year dreaming of) and turkey that overflows the countertop. Everyone stuffs themselves within minutes as if a famine would strike and our food supply would be diminished. We all rush Aunt Lucille; she takes her time as a normal human. I’m just trying to get a glass of wine but it’s not working so well. I usually have a whole bottle to myself at Friendsgiving the night before. We eat dessert, play games, laugh and share a lot of love. It happens the same every year. The only thing that’s different is everyone’s current life. There’s a lot of catching up.

There have been a few proposals to shake up the tradition. Aunt Lucille wanted dinner a bit later this year and the family was not having it. Of course, the entire family wants everyone to be happy in the situation but when changing up tradition everyone gets a little unsettled. Change can be scary. We all have our own ways of adjusting. Some go with the flow and others need time. When you have a tradition every year you know exactly what to expect. There’s no question what comes next.

A huge adjustment I had to make last year was my (non-negotiable) choice to give up meat. It wasn’t the fact that I loved turkey like I loved ham. It was the fact I had to do something differently. Something that I’ve been doing for the past 26 years. I don’t even like turkey nor have I ever. I only ate turkey on Thanksgiving because that’s what everyone does on Thanksgiving…

Having my first turkey-less Thanksgiving last year still felt exactly the same, as my first cigarette-less car ride. You have to really challenge yourself mentally. Sitting down for dinner you have to be mindful of why you chose to break that tradition in the first place. I could have easily said, “it’s fine, it’s a holiday”. Then went on with my life and having not broken that tradition. I was choosing to break that tradition for a reason. My reason was to be my best self. I knew in my heart I didn’t want the turkey.

I choose to make the decision with my heart. I allowed my mind to quiet and stop trying to talk me out of the right thing for me. It’s an adjustment but eventually, you are able to look back and be grateful you tried something new. Going into Thanksgiving this year, it’s not even a question if I should have the turkey. That decision that was hard to make last year but set me up for a thoughtless Thanksgiving this year.

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