True story: I really don't celebrate Thanksgiving. It's primarily a personal/political statement, but it's also because much of my family isn't actually American. Sure, I have celebrated it, and if I go back to Ohio I'm definitely loading up on the mashed potatoes and pie, but generally, it's not for me. You might think the world shuts down for Turkey Day, but I assure you, there are tons of things to do instead of celebrating Thanksgiving that are just as much fun as football and tryptophan-induced napping.
To say that the history behind Thanksgiving is fraught with complex socio-political implications would be putting it mildly. It's also important to note that most of what we learned about the Thanksgiving holiday in primary school was incorrect, according to The Washington Post. Yes, Squanto was at a feast that included both Pilgrims and the indigenous Wampanoag people, but we know little of what was served, only that it likely did not resemble what we think of as traditional Thanksgiving today. Perhaps that's why more and more families are choosing not to celebrate American Thanksgiving, as the Independent reported, in favor of other activities such as volunteering their time, hitting up a great beach, or even just ordering massive quantities of takeout and watching Netflix.
1. Go On Vacation
You've got a four day weekend. If you plan in advance, you can stretch that puppy out by also taking off that Wednesday and the next Monday, and dangit, doesn't that sound heavenly? It's prime tourist season in places like Patagonia and Argentina, according to Condé Nast Traveler, both of which are well-known as affordable destinations. It's spring south of the equator, and what better time than to experience something new than when everything is in fresh bloom?
And not in the way you're thinking. Yes, it's nice to volunteer at soup kitchens, and for organizations like Meals on Wheels, but they're often inundated with one-time volunteers during the holiday, as per USA Today.
What I'm proposing is that if you don't celebrate the holiday, and your workplace remains open, you can volunteer to work that day for someone who does celebrate the holiday. Not only are you allowing others time with their families, you're also getting paid for it.
3. Get Active
If you're not celebrating Thanksgiving already, why not go in the complete opposite direction and do something super active like a family hike? There are a surprising number of trails open despite the national holiday, according to National Parks Traveler, and they're empty.
If you're south of the Mason-Dixon, you'll be able to take in the foliage of autumn while enjoying the cooler climate that doesn't seem to exist in the south until Thanksgiving. Up north, it's fun to see what the weather will bring. Last year, it was a warm day, nearing 60 degrees with perfect hiking conditions. Hopefully we'll get lucky again this year.
4. Go To The Movies
You think going to the movies is just for Christmas? Au contraire. Many movie theatres are open for business, and this year, with films like Creed II and Ralph Breaks The Internet coming out during the busy weekend, you'll have your pick of great shows. What the heck? Make it a double feature.
5. Write Letters Or Make Care Packages For Indigenous People
You can make care packages by gathering clothing, non-perishable food supplies, and items like new blankets, toys, and baby items and sending them to your local Indigenous Aid society, like Native American Aid. Contact them first to see what it is that they need the most, and get on it.
Alternatively, you could spend some time writing letters to members of congress about the environmental and property rights abuses happening all over indigenous lands right now, as reported by Native American news website Indianz.com. It doesn't seem like much, but making our voices heard is one of the few lines of defense many of these communities have.