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thanksgiving plans

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It’s okay if you don’t want to do a damn thing on Thanksgiving.

I’m not here to give you some statistics or an expert opinion on why you need to free yourself from the pressure of feeling like you have to do something on the holiday. I simply speak as someone, like you, who is very, very tired.

This year has been exhausting. That’s been said ad nauseam I know, but it’s especially true if you’ve dealt with all of the tragedies, oddities and inconveniences all while working nonstop in the same space where you’re supposed to relax and find peace at some point. We’re working longer hours and having less opportunities to go out into the world and enjoy a getaway or break. And I’m sure for many of you, the holiday feels like it has now crept up you and you’re scrambling trying to figure out what you will do and where you will be come Thursday the 26th. Should you have a Friendsgiving celebration? Call your mom up and make your plans based on what your family is doing? Should you order food and invite people over? Considering we’re in a pandemic, you probably don’t need to do any of that. While congregating with friends and family and house-hopping is the norm around this time, we’re not in “normal” times. Coronavirus cases have spiked, hospitals are overburdened, and pretending that isn’t happening has only proven to make things worse. How much longer can we keep playing that game?

But in addition to trying to help keep yourself and loved ones safe, it’s okay if you simply don’t want to be bothered with the holiday. As someone who usually puts a lot of weight on end-of-the-year holidays, I came to that realization after a couple occurrences. One, was that my sister-in-law, a hardworking nurse who usually invites family over for a feast, said she wanted her family to do their own thing and hit the road next week. I applauded that, thinking about how stressed she usually is every year. She tries to order food and entertain extended family, and then give away as much food as she can at the end of the night while preparing to go back work in the hospital the next morning.

And then I spoke to a friend today whom I asked about Thanksgiving plans. Her immediate reaction of admittedly being overwhelmed left me thinking that “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” has become an inquiry to add to the list of stress-inducing questions we should all probably stop asking.

“Thanksgiving will be the first time many of us are truly allowed to be off work and have more than 24 hours to decompress, and the last thing I want to do is spend that time slaving in a kitchen or hosting guests,” she said while dealing with requests from her parents. “Yes, being away from friends and family during the past eight months has been difficult, but so has working through a pandemic with no time to process the numerous losses and tragedies that came with it. This is an opportunity to breathe and I want to take advantage of it without any social obligations or domestic expectations.”

But the point was truly driven home by my mom. After I shared my sadness over the likelihood that I wouldn’t be able to travel home to see my family this holiday season, incapable of formally introducing them to my infant son whom they only see on FaceTime due to the pandemic, she reminded me that so much stock shouldn’t be put into one day.

“Thanksgiving Day can be every day if we didn’t always need to celebrate nationally,” she said via text. “When family is not nearby, we need to remember why they aren’t and be thankful for them just the same. Don’t let the ‘holidays’ get you down. Lift your spirits by thinking how ‘blessed’ you are. Happy Holidays.”

Facts, mommy.

All that being said, there is no shame in not having plans on Thanksgiving or any holiday for that matter. If you don’t want to cook, don’t cook. If you’d rather catch up on sleep than interact with family, that’s fine. If you just want to do whatever it is that comes to mind on that day, you should. And don’t be afraid to use some PTO if you want to take a few additional day off and fully allow yourself to unwind to the glorious point where you begin to feel…dare I say…bored.

But whatever you choose to do with Thanksgiving next week, go about it with zero pressure. There have been enough concerns and responsibilities and mental gymnastics to go through in this year. There’s nothing wrong with saving the feasts, money, road trips and gatherings for another, safer, more convenient time. Give yourself permission to do whatever you want, including not a damn thing.

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