Thanksgiving’s a good one, right? Lots of togetherness, amazing food, a chance to reflect on your abundant blessings amidst the company of your loving family. When else can you comfortably consume vegetables so debauched by butter and sugar that they’re hardly recognizable? Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar Praline Granules on top: I’m looking at you. When else can you go to sleep knowing that in a matter of hours, you can once again listen to your favorite Christmas carol, Feliz Navidad, and not have anyone accuse you of jumping the gun or just being really annoying? When else, I have to ask, can you have the biggest meal of the year before afternoon has even hit, and then spend the next 24 hours on a maniacal shopping spree?
There is no other time that any of this happens, and in theory, Thanksgiving is a pretty good holiday. However, I have to tell you that as I look back on the ghosts of my Thanksgivings past, I’ve managed to be a perennial ruiner of this joyous holiday for both myself and my dear relations. Identifying these mishaps sheds light on what I, and really each of us, can do to avoid wrecking Thanksgiving and instead totally conquering the occasion. Here are 3 methods I suggest you that implement next Thursday.
1- Take the Right Kind of Turkey Trot
I highly recommend squeezing in some lively physical activity on the morning of Thanksgiving. It’s a great way to greet the day, prime your appetite, rev up your metabolism, and also avoid spending too much time with your crazy uncle who insists that he won’t cut his hair until the Apocalypse. (Honest.) At SomaSole, we’ll be starting the morning with a sunrise stretch and leg session before heading out on a festive trail run. Most semi-active cities actually have organized races or “Turkey Trots” on Thanksgiving morning where you can join fellow fitness-minded folk on a brisk jaunt before you feast. Being a runner and dare-I-say somewhat of a diehard when it comes to fitness (an hour after I received a 3rd degree burn on my foot complete with fluid-filled blisters the size of small animals, I went to the gym for cardio), I haven’t missed a Thanksgiving morning run in years.
That said, there was one year where it would have been much better for me to have stayed home. On this occasion, my intended Turkey Trot took the form of a ballistic case of runner’s trots and I wound up calling my mom from a gas station pay phone and asking her to please come and pick me up as I could not make it home. If you don’t know what runner’s trots are, look that up. Now, to avoid this taking place you need to follow the old adage and “listen to your gut.” Please, don’t eat fibrous food on the morning of your Thanksgiving run and if you want to be really safe, avoid chewing gum, or even listening to music that is overly relaxing while you run as “rest and digest” is a real phenomenon.
2- Eat the Damn Pie. Or Don’t.
Because Thanksgiving centers almost entirely around eating food and eating a lot of it, it’s a good stage for observing different mentalities surrounding appetite and consumption. There are those that go whole-hog and load up several plates from the very start, not skipping one side dish or casserole for fear of somehow missing out on what the holiday really means. There are those that go squirrel-style and nibble on a little bit of everything without really tucking too deeply into any of it. There are those that are scared to try the “bad foods” or may mention that they’re trying to lose weight and just want a tiny “sliver” of turkey. When there are avoiders, there are pushers, and inevitably some assertive nurturer will insist that anyone who isn’t partaking of the pie selection had better suck it up and get to slicing.
Without getting too serious, I spent one Thanksgiving woefully underweight and actually terrified of eating anything sweet, unhealthy or rich. My family was uncomfortable, and I was so nervous about dessert that I didn’t join them at my grandma’s house for pie. Sitting home alone at pie time on Thanksgiving night is never a good feeling. What’s more, an unhealthy relationship toward food and subscribing to ideas of having to earn the right to eat or having to punish yourself for eating certain foods is not okay. This is why I’m super supportive of what Women’s Health is saying on the matter right now. All in all, my recommendation on this front is that if you want to have pie, eat the damn pie. If you don’t, no worries. Listen to your body and pay attention to its cues. You’ll enjoy yourself much more this way.
3- Spread the Love, not the Flu
These days, one of of my favorite aspects of Thanksgiving is the chance to bring along something good to share with the people I love. This could be a game, a dish, a piece of news (“HEY! You’re no longer my least favorite cousin!”), or even just a great joke. One year, however, I shut down nearly the entire Thanksgiving operation by spreading a delightful dose of the stomach flu with my family and preventing them from enjoying the goodness of the holiday. I remember that my glamorous Thanksgiving feast ended up consisting of saltine crackers and ginger ale attempted amidst groans from my bed. If you’re sick, just stay home and don’t bring an infectious illness. If you’re well, consider bringing this swag vegetable platter arranged to look like a turkey.
Above all, this Thanksgiving, take joy in the holiday. As you listen to your body, get some exercise and good food, and offer something great to your loved ones along with your company, I can almost guarantee that you won’t ruin Thanksgiving. But if you do, you have to tell me everything.