4 Reasons To Re-Think Your Thanksgiving Traditions

As a Brit, I have always had pretty ambivalent feelings about Thanksgiving. Even though I’ve lived in the U.S. for 30 years, I can’t quite embrace the spirit of this holiday, which seems to be mostly about consuming vast quantities of food.

Now some Americans are opting out of the chow fest. Here’s why:

1. So Many Unemployed And Hungry

The Washington Post reports that for the first time, Julia Paik will spend Thanksgiving morning leading a 5K team to raise money for SOME (So Others Might Eat), an organization that serves the homeless and hungry in Washington. The teams have given themselves names such as “Huffin’ For The Stuffin.” Paik’s seven-member team is called Shakin’ Jelly, for that Belly!”

2. Americans Are Obese

Maybe opting out of pumpkin pie and stuffing doesn’t sound like much fun. But surely what’s even less fun is a quadruple bypass, diabetes or, perhaps most common, finding that you can’t even fit into your skinny jeans. And since about one third of adult Americans are obese, is it really a good idea to gobble down the turkey and all the trimmings? To combat that tendency, Weight Watchers and other national weight-loss programs hold special sessions on cutting back and finding other ways to celebrate Thanksgiving.

3. Our Hectic Lifestyle

From The Washington Post:

On Thursday, yoga instructor Kimberly Wilson is planning a downward-facing-dog blitz at her Tranquil Space Yoga studios in Dupont Circle and Arlington County, adding more Thanksgiving classes by public demand, with the money going to charity – “so people can spend time in reflection.”

4. We Need To Exercise More

Even if you must eat that turkey or tofurkey dinner, use a smaller, old-fashioned plate, that doesn’t hold as much. After dinner, head outside for some exercise before the end of the day. My book, Get Out! 150 Easy Ways For Kids and Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future, will give you some great ideas of fun activities for 15 minutes or an hour.

And getting outside could also help by removing you from any awkward conversations about politics or religion that might have developed over the course of dinner. There’s nothing like some fresh air to clear the mind!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Related Stories

‘Turkey Talk Tips’ For A Smooth Thanksgiving

6 Thanksgiving Staples That Contain BPA

Why You’ll Pay More For Thanksgiving Dinner This Year

Photo Credit: eroggenburg


Sheri P.
Sheri P6 years ago

If only more people followed these suggestions!

Lilithe Magdalene

One can enjoy the holiday, and also integrate it's deeper meaning of gratitude without overeating and gorging. It also stands to honor the American Indians on this day as there is still that sense of having stolen this precious land from those who were here first. I spent the day making food to share with a neighbor friend - we are both on disability and do not have family nearby. It was a good quiet time for sharing good food and company and to each realize we were not alone dealing with our challenges. I was grateful for the Holy Day of Gratitude! Excellent harvest!

Andrea H.
Andrea Hoyt6 years ago

the other R. Love your comment!

Andrea H.
Andrea Hoyt6 years ago

First off... Thanksgiving is actually a tradition based on a feast the Pilgrims prepared in thanks to the local Native Americans for all of their help and kindness. It was a pleasant time before the dark parts of our history that we can reflect on and learn from. Thanksgiving is a time for hearts to open and be kind and helpful to others. It is a time to slow down and come together as communities and families and give of ourselves. It is a great American tradition that should not be lost or misinterpreted. Go vegan, volunteer at a local mission, buy a bag of food for less fortunate, pay homage to your local native peoples, but please don't shine a negative light on this tradition. Everyone has a choice, instead of focusing on the negative, try to do something positive. I'm thankful for positive, forward thinkers, my family and friends, American soldiers and their families, and my doggie (and doggies past) this year. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

sherry l.
sherry luciano6 years ago

I feel people can eat on the hoildays but also help others. Enjoying something because others don't have food will not help them unless we change the world we're living in.

Cat W.
Past Member 6 years ago

What a glaring omission! Four reasons and none of them are that we perpetrated genocide on an entire race of native peoples???

I'm not a native american but I sure as hell will not celebrate a holiday that:

1. basically applauds the violent take-over of this land.
2. creates a "haves" and "have-nots" scenario all over the country. Not only poor people but people who have no family, are in foster care, were widowed, left abusive families, etc.
3. creates mass factory-farming of turkeys. Millions eat birds that were inhumanely tortured their entire lives.
4. sure, have a day where your family comes together (it's called a family reunion) but the national holiday should be debunked in repentant compassion for the natives that were brutally murdered on this land, their wealth and culture stripped from them, and their descendants still reeling in poverty and addiction today because of it.

Myriam G.
Myriam G6 years ago

I'm with Duane B: Holidays are what you make of them.

I'm not a United Stater either, but I can understand that this holiday is about giving thanks. So, maybe holding off the lectures and the book-selling part, and start giving thanks for all the things Nature bestowed upon you, would be in season. And, maybe show some respect and kinship to our friends from the First Nations...

Desirai J.
Kayla J6 years ago

Well, I did eat yesterday, and will eat again today with other family members. But It isn't any different than dinner, except it's food that we normally don't have.

Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thanksgiving traditions are what you make of them. They don't have to be about over-eating. In our family they are more about coming together as a family and sharing time and fellowship together, reconnecting as a family, and spending time with each other that we don't take time to do so any other time of the year.

Mark Stevenson
Mark S6 years ago

Now if only they would opt out of Black Friday, and all holiday shopping. I can dream, can't I?