A Smaller Thanksgiving

I have been taking a little break from Facebook over the past few weeks. I deleted the app entirely from my phone, and I only logged in online at most once per day, just to check notifications or to post a funny picture I found on a friend’s wall. I rarely scrolled through my feed, and this proved to be a necessary change in my life.

Over Thanksgiving break, when I would sporadically check Facebook, I found a common theme: my Facebook friends tagged in pictures of large family gatherings over a Thanksgiving table. These groups could number up to fifty people or more. Normally an aunt or an older cousin would post the picture, along with a caption that reads something like: “So thankful that all of us in the ______ Family have gathered here to celebrate today!” My friends would also send me Snapchats of huge buffet lines for Thanksgiving food or of post-meal games of football with enough players to comprise an actual NFL team.​ My Thanksgiving dinners have always looked a little different. For as long as I can remember, I have spent Thanksgiving with only my parents, my brother, my paternal aunt, and my paternal grandmother. This is a total of merely six people. I do have quite a large extended family, with many cousins on both my mother’s and my father’s side, but we rarely gather for the holidays for a variety of reasons. Of course, this does not mean that I hate my extended family members and never want to see them, but a huge Thanksgiving party was just never in the picture for me.

But even though I may miss out on the fifty-member Thanksgiving meal, that doesn’t mean I’ve had terrible Thanksgivings all throughout my life. In fact, my six-member gathering may be even more enjoyable than a larger one.

First of all, I spend my Thanksgivings with family members whom I see and talk to on a regular basis. My aunt and grandmother live only a few minutes away from my parents’ house, so I see them every time I have a break from school. Because we see each other so often, conversation flows easily. At my Thanksgivings, I never have to dodge any uncomfortable catching-up moments or any awkward questions about my plans after graduation or my romantic endeavors.

Second, there’s a lot less preparation that has to be done. There are fewer places to set at the table and less cleaning to do afterwards. My mother does the brunt of the cooking for Thanksgiving dinner, and my aunt contributes with sides and desserts. I can’t imagine how stressed they would be if there were forty other mouths to feed. I don’t even know how many turkeys are necessary to feed forty people. And because there are fewer mouths to feed, that means more leftovers once the meal is over!

There’s no correct way to do Thanksgiving. Friends taught me that.  But just because I celebrate with fewer people does not mean that I experience less thankfulness when I sit around the table.​ Image Credit: Pathfinders Strategies Go, Collider