Turkey-Happy Freaking Thanksgiving-pexels-photo-4508757

“Thanksgiving dinner’s sad and thankless. Christmas dinner’s dark and blue. When you stop and try to see it From the turkey’s point of view.” ~ Shel Silverstein 

“I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What’s to be ashamed of? I went through a really rough time, and I am quite proud that I got out of that.” ~ J.K. Rowling

There is no right or wrong way to handle the holidays. You are in complete control of your plans as to what you will do during this time of the year.” ~ Richard Kauffman

Thanksgiving is so called because we are all so thankful that it only comes once a year.” ~ P.J. O’Rourke


Did you know that you’re allowed to be bummed during Thanksgiving? And the holiday season in general? 

Well, you are.

You don’t have to accept invitations to traditional Thanksgiving dinners if you’re not in the traditional holiday frame of mind. You can make other plans, such as kicking back by yourself at home — or with a few like-minded folks — ordering pizza and binge-watching your favorite show(s).

After all, not everyone at every moment during every holiday season is in the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving frame of mind. But that doesn’t mean you cannot have a laugh watching a quirky Thanksgiving-themed movie, such as Home For The Holidays or Planes, Trains And Automobiles, or the pageant scene in  Adams Family Values.

So, what are the causes of the holiday blues, if you’re not a turkey?

Situational Downers

When something occurs that is upsetting, disappointing or frightening, it can be a real holiday mood killer. Situations that can shake your world include homesickness, job loss, being passed over for a promotion, a career stall, financial loss, divorce, losing custody of one’s children, a romantic breakup, being bullied or threatened, getting a scary medical diagnosis, losing a loved one (human or pet), or losing your home due to a financial or natural disaster. In many instances, these situations will be resolved eventually and it is hoped happily, although it might take some time. Meanwhile, when such a situation is fresh the desire to celebrate the holidays in the traditional way can be temporarily dampened.

Seasonal Holiday Blues

 Then there is the so-called “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD). A major trigger seems to be the seasonal change in the weather that results in less daylight and drops in vitamin D. As well, stress over holiday expectations, pressure to accomplish the growing number of time-and-energy-consuming holiday tasks, and the commercialization of the holidays — which seems to begin earlier and earlier every year — can be overwhelming and disheartening.

It is also possible that there are underlying reasons that the holidays prompt the blues for some people; perhaps something bad happened during a holiday past, and that memory routinely overshadows the holiday season, which in the U.S. typically begins with Thanksgiving Day and includes Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve. In recent decades, the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season  — the day after Thanksgiving called Black Friday — actually moved to Thanksgiving Day itself, causing a disruption in this cherished American holiday. That terrible — and greedy — idea was the straw that broke the reindeer’s back for many people! Thankfully, some retailers have moved their start-of-the-season sales back to Black Friday.

Finally, those who already suffer from underlying mental or emotional health issues might especially experience increased sadness and generally negative feelings during Thanksgiving and into the holiday season. However, contrary to a popular but dangerous myth, suicides do not tend to increase during the holiday season. That’s not to say suicidal thoughts and actual suicides do not occur during this time of the year; so, if you or anyone you know should experience suicidal thoughts or severe emotional distress at any time, do not hesitate to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 from anywhere. Just remember that feeling sad and suffering from depression are two very different things.   

Choosing Never To Celebrate Thanksgiving

A post that addresses alternatives to celebrating Thanksgiving in the traditional manner would be lacking if it did not also acknowledge that some Americans choose to permanently forego celebration of  the Thanksgiving holiday altogether. Some Indigenous People — AKA Native Americans — find that celebrating Thanksgiving Day is counter to their history. Perhaps all Americans should revisit, rethink and reinterpret the history of the relationship between our respective Indigenous and European ancestors. Historical truth is important to the health of our nation, despite the hysteria by some who wish to suppress it.    

How To Graciously Withdraw

When choosing to withdraw from the traditional Thanksgiving celebration, it’s important to be kind and considerate and observe the accepted practices of etiquette. Promptly send regrets to a Thanksgiving dinner invitation, with a thoughtful and as truthful as possible explanation. If you have already accepted, contact your host asap to withdraw your acceptance. You do not need to elaborate if you wish to protect your privacy and not make your absence a topic of conversation. Simply say that you are not up to it this year, wish them a happy holiday and that you look forward to seeing them soon. If you can afford it, send flowers to your hostess; the card can say, sorry I’m missing out this year, but send my best wishes for a wonderful day. Depending on the situation, I am not adverse to a simple and kind white-ish lie to spare the feelings of the inviter and the privacy of the invitee. Just a simple, “I am not feeling well,” should suffice; after all, you do have a case of holiday funk, which might be contagious! Just make sure you do stay in with the aforementioned pizza and movies and don’t go bar-hopping or shopping, or you might wind up on social media and have some explaining to do.   

Some Alternatives

  • Stay home and pass the day vegging out. If you are really down in the dumps, avoid drinking alcohol alone.
  • Invite a like-minded friend or two over to share a simple or take-out meal, play some board games, have some lively conversation and just enjoy a good non-holiday-ish time. This goes double for couples who just want to hang out together.
  • Experiment with a non-traditional recipe you’ve been wanting to try, with or without friends participating.
  • Go on a non-traditional get-away for the weekend (or longer). Make it simple or elaborate. If there is no time to plan for this year, consider it for next Thanksgiving.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen or any place that helps others to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner. Helping others often lifts one’s spirits. And this is truly the perfect excuse to turn down a dinner invitation! This is also a great way to meet people if you are new in town or to a neighborhood, or away from home and actually want to connect and celebrate the holiday season. 

About That Turkey

For those who sympathize with turkeys raised for human consumption, you can obtain your Thanksgiving turkey from a place that raises turkeys humanely, or find a vegan substitution. And don’t forget to celebrate the annual Presidential turkey-pardoning ceremony.

Enjoy The Day Your Own Way

Whatever you decide — a traditional get-together with family and friends or a non-traditional go-your-own-way day, be safe and take care. So, to all my readers, Happy Thanksgiving or Happy Freaking Thanksgiving — your choice! And for the latter, I hope next year is better!

Until next time,



















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