Why We’re Skipping Thanksgiving (and I’m Happy About it)

We’re not doing anything for Thanksgiving this year, and I feel pretty great about it.

Truthfully I’m a serial Thanksgiving skipper. When I lived in London I celebrated with a soggy turkey sandwich. In Colombia a couple of years ago we simply went out for pizza. I think that the year I was in Australia I completely forgot it even was Thanksgiving until that evening when I checked my email.

Thanksgiving in Colombia

By my count, out of the past 7 Thanksgivings I have celebrated twice. Just two years, the two I was actually in the United States with my family.

It’s not that I have anything against the holiday mind you. Thanksgiving may not be my absolute favorite but it’s a day totally dedicated to food, which you know is my jam. I’m not into Black Friday or any of that nonsense, but I’m totally into giving thanks in general. My favorite bits of Thanksgiving: my grandmother’s Italian meat stuffing, going around the table and listing what we’re thankful for, finally being able to watch Christmas movies.

Last year Mike and I were actually in the United States for Thanksgiving and I whole-heartedly embraced it. In fact, I hosted! Not just my own family, but my future in-laws as well (I am both ambitious and foolish). Despite having zero experience Mike and I managed to:

  • Roast a pretty presentable turkey (a small miracle in itself).
  • Make two kinds of potatoes (baked sweet potatoes with a clove compound butter and mashed potatoes from scratch)
  • Make rosemary garlic biscuits and an elaborate salad involving roasted butternut squash and homemade dressing

Not bad for a first attempt. We didn’t even really need the back-up lasagna my mom so kindly made us.

The only photo I remembered to take of my greatest triumph

It was fantastic. And so exhausting. The whole thing took a week to put together, and probably another week to recover from.

So this year I’m not too concerned. For awhile I checked around to see if any restaurants were hosting anything. I considered hosting myself for the little blogger ex-pat community. And then I made the conscious decision to not care. Why should I feel obligated to do something? Thanksgiving is great and all, but I can live without it, for another year at least.

(I will add that Christmas is different. I always want to play christmas music, watch Love Actually and decorate a tree. I’ve never not felt sad about not being home for Christmas. This year we’re celebrating with Mike’s family at a resort in Puerto Vallarta, and I’m still going to get a little teary when I call my parents I’m sure.)

Every day in Sayulita 

My apathy about Thanksgiving isn’t depressing, in fact it’s rooted in hope. There will be other Thanksgivings, lots of them probably. Mike and I are family now and we have a whole lifetime of warm fuzzy food-drunk Thanksgivings lying ahead of us. Celebrating shouldn’t be an obligation, it should be, well, a celebration!

But how many more years will we be able to blow off a major holiday entirely? Probably not many, and being able to shirk that responsibility is a gift in itself I now realize. No hectic travel. No small talk with weird relatives. No pile of dirty dishes. We’ll just call our folks, wish them well and maybe go out for pizza (or a turkey sandwich if we’re feeling festive).

Who knows where we will be this time next year, or how I will feel about celebrating. But at this point in my life I get to pick and choose, and for that, I’m definitely grateful.

22 thoughts on “Why We’re Skipping Thanksgiving (and I’m Happy About it)”

  1. I too have a sporadic relationship with Thanksgiving. When I make it home (which isn’t very often) I’m all for gobbling up some turkey and spending a day with the family, but when I’m away, I take the opportunity to not conform to such holidays. I’m no Grinch, I just feel like it’s too much hassle and I’d rather celebrate the holidays of the country I’m living in instead. Rory and I usually end up on the turkey sandwhich bandwagon (or sushi) with a bottle of wine and it’s perfect.

  2. I got lucky this year: my family came to visit me for Thanksgiving! I am trying to convince them that they should make it an annual tradition, but I know that is just wishful thinking.

  3. I love Thanksgiving/Christmas, but it’s hard to not want to jet off somewhere when I have those free days off from work that don’t count as vacation time 🙂

    This year I’m sticking around for both actually, but the past 2 years my parents decided we should all go away for the holidays which was amazing.

  4. I’ve skipped Thanksgiving before – one year I took the train to San Antonio, visited the Alamo, and just generally had a great time forgetting it was a holiday. Enjoy not celebrating!

  5. I’m heading up to Montreal with my boyfriend over Thanksgiving weekend this year, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. SUPER thankful that my parents don’t guilt me into coming home–it’s so miserable and expensive to travel around the holidays. Looking forward to eating turkey sandwiches on the train and maybe trying poutine on Thanksgiving night!

  6. We’ve done a lot of blowing off Thanksgiving the past few years, and that’s in the U.S. My favorite was the year we went to San Antonio and watched the lighting of the river. Considering that we never even knew they had it, the weekend was totally amazing.

    This year, we’re going out to celebrate with the family one last time before we leave on our permanent trip to South America. No dishes, no long days of preparation, just easy family time with my little family. Then six days later we leave on a cruise ship and simply don’t bother to come back. We have a lot to be thankful for this year, embarking on a life of permanent travel is nothing short of a lifelong dream.

  7. Christmas is more fun! We were in Vienna last year and knew there had to be somebody doing Thanksgiving dinner. So we took upon the Couchsurfing community and found ourselves upon a potluck with people from all over the place! Just another good reason to gather and make new friends abroad in my book. 🙂

  8. Gerard and I are notorious for Thanksgiving skippers too! Maybe not as much as you two, but at least every other year in the last 7 years i would say. It’s not one that I feel guilty about missing b/c we were off traveling somewhere. Christmas is a different story for sure.. Happy Thanksgiving to you both! Enjoy that pizza.. 😛

  9. i don’t mind missing thanksgiving one bit either. this is my second in india and i might treat myself to the tootsie rolls i have from the states i’ve been hoarding. christmas is another story.. this will be my second out of the country and i always wish i were home!

  10. Yes, NOTHING like Christmas! Music and movies and rum nog. Yup! I just have a pile of exams to survive and then I’ll be right there. Good for you for embracing the moment and not worrying about all that stuff. 🙂

  11. Well I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, what with being a Brit and all, but to be honest I don’t think I’d enjoy it that much even if I did celebrate it. Plus it’s way too close to my favourite holiday of the year – Christmas! I adore Christmas, and feel bummed out every time I miss it back in the UK. I spent Christmas in Korea in both 2009 and 2010, and then again last year, and it just wasn’t the same as being back at home.

    I’ve already watched two Christmas movies this year – Jack Frost, and a terrible movie from the 80s involving a detective, his rich family, and a girl called Brandy that he pretended was his girlfriend but was really a witness in some high profile court case. It was horrific.

  12. Ah… But small talk with weird relatives is the best part! :p
    Enjoy yout thanksgiving of resting and going about your day – sometimes that can be the best kind!

  13. I wish I had your perspective. This is my second Thanksgiving away from home and I’m heartbroken — last year I planned all my travels around it so I could be home. In my house it’s a holiday that rivals Christmas, and two years ago when I Skyped home from Vietnam I started crying so hard I had to slam my laptop shut.

    I just think it is the perfect holiday… friends and family and good food and the Macy’s Day Parade and 1,500 piece puzzles (we’re not really sports people in my family… we do puzzles instead)

  14. I’ve become pretty dis-attached to Thanksgiving myself. I mean when you think about it, it’s just one big dinner party. I can do that anytime! It doesn’t have to be November to serve stuffing or turkey!

  15. Being in England now, I didn’t hear much about Thanksgiving and the only reason I knew it was Thanksgiving was because of Facebook. Having said that, I can’t say that I missed being in the United States for Thanksgiving because Thanksgiving is not crammed down my throat (Actually, my biggest problem with Thanksgiving is the day after it, but that’s another story). For whatever reason when I’ve lived abroad, I’ve never missed Thanksgiving.

  16. This is funny, because I’m the exact opposite. I don’t mind missing Christmas too much, but I hate being away for Thanksgiving! I think because it’s more family-time-centered and less give-me-things. But I agree with the statement that it’s about hope; there will be more celebrations and I know that I’ll spend meaningful time with my family when the time is right, even if it’s not Christmas Day or in your case, Thanksgiving.

  17. I never minded skipping Thanksgiving either–I never flew home for it because it’s just a pain to travel that weekend–but now that I live 12 miles from my parents, I do love having a big ol’, booze-filled meal with all of our closest friends.

  18. Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday devoted to food. It’s the time of the year where you get to give thanks for what you have no matter where in the world you are. That’s why its called Thanksgiving, because its a day of giving thanks.

  19. One Thanksgiving I wish I had skipped was in 1981 in Freiburg. The University had a rather large contingency of American students studying abroad for a year and a small group of us who regularly got together at a local restaurant just outside of town for Saturday dinner made arrangements with the owners to have them cook a full-blown, American-style Thanksgiving dinner for us. He agreed as long as we could get at least 20 in our party to join in. We ended up with over 30 of us- all starved for a BIG, old-fashioned dinner. The owner was very gracious and said 20 DM per head (exchange was $1 to 1.80 DM or thereabouts. Our mistake was not giving him a clue about how to prepare it- just telling him the basics (in English because he loved practicing his English whenever we visited). We arrived Thanksgiving afternoon expecting to be blown away as the food in this place was always excellent. Turkey? Oh no. Goose. Stuffed with a concoction of Liverwurst, currants, breadcrumbs and chopped hazelnuts. And GREASY beyond belief. Corn? (definitely not a German staple- it’s meant to feed the pigs) Yup- and much to our surprise ON THE COB! But it was field corn, not sweet corn- and boiled so long that the cobs were actually mushy. Mashed potatoes? Yes again! At least we think they were. The delicious brown gravy made them somewhat edible. He even made green bean casserole! We think, at least- everyone took one bite. The saving grace were the pies- he made American Style pies and they were delicious. Apple, cherry and blueberry. And the schnapps. Lots and lots of schnapps.

  20. My hair is bigger than your future!

    I`m not big into Thanksgiving either but thats only because Im a vegetarian, and a nutritarian (don’t eat nuts) and and I have Lachanophobia. the fear of vegetables. So Im a picky eater.

  21. Came here trying to understand why my little brother & wife will be MIA (again) this year. They’re doing Friendsgiving and skipping our family gathering. Nieces & nephews under 5 know them as Aunt & Uncle Skype. 🙁

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