I have found the American holiday season a little creepy ever since I first noticed that about 90% of magazine articles at this time of year focus on how to “survive” the holidays with sanity/relationship/budget intact. None of this has ever sounded like cause for celebration to me.
For several years now I’ve observed Buy Nothing Day on so-called Black Friday, the day on which Americans endorse the holiday slogan “Peace on Earth” by trampling each other to death at the doors of Walmart and ToysRUs.
Especially this year, after having successfully divested myself of most of my possessions, I look with dread at the prospect of accumulating more consumer items that I don’t need (or even things I feel I need that 99% of the world would neither dream of nor want . . . nor even be able to identify).
This year I’m adding something new to my curmudgeonly non-observance of the Season of Joy: I will be fasting on Thanksgiving.
For many years I’ve dodged the invitations of well-meaning friends and relatives, and with no local family here in Miami no one will miss me and all my irritating vegan/gluten-free/chocolate-allergy restrictions. More important, I will be confronting one of my greatest demons head on. The pleasure of food has always loomed too large in my life, a luxury that a great percentage of the world’s population cannot enjoy. Too many people start the day hungry, and remain that way. For many people food is not a joy but a struggle, or an unobtainable pleasure. That I have turned its abundance into a personal contest of will is unseemly. In fact, it is almost enough to make me lose my appetite.
And so for one day at least, I will find another focus for my thoughts and my wishes and perhaps even my feelings of thankfulness. Life is good, my life is good—and I don’t need marshmallow-covered yams to prove it.