an empty chair at the table because they are taking a break from tradition

Thanksgiving: To Do or Not To Do

Last updated: November 2023

Thanksgiving can be a huge celebration as, for some, it kicks off the holiday season. As baby boomers, we have become accustomed to having 35 at the table. Only members of the close family are usually included in our Thanksgiving dinner.

Having this many people attend requires a commitment of time and money in addition to days worth of preparation. For there to be any chance of success, the food has to be served unrestrictedly.

Taking a break from tradition

Tradition aside, sometimes you just don't have it in you, regardless of how much you want it. In Canada, we have our Thanksgiving in mid-October, just as the air is getting cool and the leaves start turning.

This far north the color is abundant and vibrant, but falling leaves can produce mold that will stop us in our tracks.

This year on Thanksgiving, I just didn't have it in me to host a big family meal. I didn't want to have any family around me, even though they offered to cook the turkey and bring it.

I just couldn't fathom all the fuss of having everyone here and I was not prepared to go to anybody else’s house. Most of the kids were relieved but one of them put up a big fuss. Regardless of what they thought or how they felt, I just couldn't find the energy.

I felt no guilt or anxiety over my decision. It was truly like a breath of fresh air.

I didn't have to spend two days preparing the feast. Nor did I have to spend the extra money because we all know how much groceries cost this year. I didn't have to spend the next week cleaning up, putting everything away.

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A different Thanksgiving day

So, my husband and I spent a quiet day watching movies and searching the internet. This allowed the rest of the family to go about their business and create new traditions for themselves.

After all, just because something's been done one way in the past does not mean it has to be done that way in the future.

My genuine train of thinking was that regardless of who prepared the lunch for me, there was a good chance that I wouldn't be able to eat it. This was due to the fact that if the energy level around me is very high, my heart failure becomes active, which means that I am unable to eat any food. It's wonderful to see everybody eating and enjoying what we've prepared but it does little for me.

This isn't the first year that I haven't felt like putting on the big spread for Thanksgiving or other holidays, but this is the first time that I have done something about it. I finally spoke up and advocated for myself regardless of what was expected of me. I stuck to my guns, recognized my limitations, and performed self-care. The result was everybody managed on their own and had no problem doing it.

What are your thoughts on letting go of traditions?

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