I ended up being too sick to go to the family Thanksgiving celebration this year. It's only the second time I've missed a traditional turkey dinner. (The last time occurred during my adolescence when, due to unforeseen complications, my family ended up eating tuna salad sandwiches for Thanksgiving.) The effect of missing a big family dinner this year has been that I've been thinking all day about the meaning of the holiday and, of course, about the tradition of eating until we feel sick.
I heard earlier today that the average American eats 4400 calories on Thanksgiving day—that's twice what most of us eat on a normal day. As I explained in my post on indulgence, I fully believe in the importance of giving into our cravings from time to time.
And I guess I feel the same way about Thanksgiving. It's hard to imagine going to a big turkey dinner and counting calories or skipping dessert. I mean, what would be the point?
I remember one Thanksgiving years ago . . . I was living in D.C., so I celebrated the holiday with an aunt and uncle who live in northern Virginia. The only problem was that this particular aunt and uncle happen to be health nuts, so there was nothing fattening or high calorie on the table: there was no cheese ball, there was turkey but no gravy, the potatoes—regular and sweet—were baked and served plain, the stuffing and rolls were nonexistent, and the cranberries and green beans were steamed. I can't remember if there was dessert, but I have a vague memory of low-fat ice cream. I felt like I had died and gone to culinary hell. To me, Thanksgiving isn't really Thanksgiving if, at the end of the day, you don't feel like you've eaten too much.
And I guess this all comes back to one of the main reasons for this blog: if we don't allow ourselves these random pleasures from time to time, then I worry that we force ourselves to live in a constant state of denial. A state that pushes us to crave what we can't have even more.
So now that you've all finished gorging yourself on turkey and potatoes and stuffing covered in thick gravy, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, rolls oozing with butter, green beans in a decadent casserole of mushroom soup and french fried onions, and a big piece of pumpkin pie a la mode, don't forget how important it is to give into our cravings from time to time and not feel bad about yourself for doing it. It will all balance itself out anyway. Because chances are that if you went overboard today, you'll probably cut back tomorrow.
And those people who cut the gravy and the butter and the fat and the sugar today? Trust me, they'll be the first ones in line at Cinnabon when they hit the mall tomorrow.