A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving.

In East Texas, it means the cooler weather is finally here. It means Christmas is coming. It means family. It means pumpkin things (yeah, I’m a pumpkin spice kind of gal). It means a fire. It means fall candles. It means boots and scarves. It means scarves, yall. It means holiday music. It means reflection on the past year. And it means delicious food.

I love almost everything about Thanksgiving.

What do I not like about Thanksgiving? Food fear and diet talk and the subsequent shame.

As if we don’t get enough of diet culture telling us we’re terrible for enjoying food, Thanksgiving brings on a new layer of shaming from diet culture. Food/weight talk is amped up which means shame is soaring high. And some of the joy of Thanksgiving is stolen. When we spend time around the family table discussing how “bad” we are for eating the foods present, how we’ll have to exercise/restrict more to make up for what we’ve eaten, how we’ll have to unbutton our pants after the meal is done, or how we tweaked certain dishes to be “healthier”, we are missing the point. We’re missing out.

The point of Thanksgiving is to be thankful, right?

I’m pretty sure when this holiday began, the purpose wasn’t to throw everyone into a shame spiral. Because that’s what happens when we engage diet culture talk- the talk that oozes fear of food. I want to spend this holiday being thankful. Thankful that I’m a new mom and I get to watch my son taste new foods and babble and throw diapers and spoons and all the things like a wild man. I want to relish in the fact that a year ago I wasn’t completely sure I’d know his smile and smell and feel. I want to savor each moment I get as a first time mom in this holiday season. And I want a chance to raise him in a culture that isn’t obsessed with food and body. I can’t change the culture at large, but I can change the culture in my house. And that’s going to be just what I attempt to do. I plan to focus on the gratitude I feel for God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. I plan to focus on gratitude for my little family- my husband and my son. I plan to focus on gratitude for my parents, my in-laws, my siblings, my niece and nephew, my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandmother. I plan to focus on the gratitude I feel for my precious church family, for old friends, for new friends, for deep friendships, for cooler weather, for my totally awesome dogs, for funny cats I never thought I’d care anything about, for a fireplace, for a home I love- aka- shelter, for the ability to buy groceries… You get the picture. There are so many, many things- big and small- that I (we) have to be thankful for this season.

Most people that I know are people that value the depth and richness of life over food and weight. Most people I know aren’t really conscious of how they engage in diet culture during this season. Most people I know are doing the best they can in this food and body obsessed world we live in. But here’s the thing, we can all maybe do a little better. Just a little better by making this holiday easier on everyone- ourselves, our relatives, our spouses, our children, those with an eating disorder, those without- by making the holiday about being thankful and not about the food or how our bodies look.

So this Thanksgiving, I plan to be thankful. I want to do my part in changing the culture that tells me food and body are one of the most important things in life. I disagree with that assessment and I’m going to live like I disagree. I’m going to be thankful for the yummy dishes prepared (most of which are unique to this special season), sure, but I want to be thankful for so much more than the food. And the only real way to be TRULY thankful is to look past the food and look at the faces around the table. I hope you’ll join me in being thankful and refrain from obsessing about the food at the table, the food you eat and just enjoy the ones around you, as best you can.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?