The ATL departures board is a screed of red cancellations. Minneapolis already has snow, delaying most Westward migration. Every face full of consternation while they all apologize into or scowl at their phones. But then the first Thanksgiving miracle begins somewhere near the bag drop, when it occurs to me that I can put my winter hat in my checked luggage. I have no warm coat in my possession, and I’m gonna see the fam back in New England another time.
However, I have a profound sense of gratitude in my carry-on as I look forward to skipping Thanksgiving. And with the holiday just over a week away, here’s my argument for why you should too.
Everything about this five-day holiday weekend is more obligation than vacation. The half-assed half-day on Wednesday is a waste of a shower. Thanksgiving food is terrible and terrible for you. And Black Friday? I hate shopping en masse when I’m at Trader Joe’s at 6 p.m. on any given day. Let alone 6 a.m. at Circuit City on my day off.
Think about it: Five days of eating any damn time you want, instead of waiting around for a force feed at 3 p.m. like a foie gras goose.
And I’m just going to come out with it: Hustling all over town in traffic to watch football teams you don’t like with your girlfriend’s family is so overrated that it’s insane. Turkey is hit or miss. The “traditional” foods are full of crap. You can watch a football team you actually like literally anywhere in the world.
But you know what is not even slightly terrible? Sitting here in Atlanta, casually sipping on airport Starbucks before sneaking off for a five-day vacation.
Think about it: not five days when your coworkers curse your absence and resent your return. Five days where you will not get a single work email. Five days of eating any damn time you want, instead of waiting around for a forcefeed at 3 p.m. like a foie gras goose.
This holiday—once a great joy in school—is the starter pistol for an endless ultra-marathon of holidays. Not just the lockstep and joyless provisioning of “Black Friday,” but the coming procession of “holiday” parties. These parties are usually right at a reasonable dinnertime and will begin the terrible diet of sodium-caked passed apps and bad wine.
But that’s December. November—coming at the heels of the fall resurgence at work—should be the best month in your calendar. Yet the most common flights this week originate from the college population of Boston. On average only one percent of US travelers fly for Thanksgiving. But for that $867 mid-week fare—for one person—to Salt Lake City you and sweetie could be on a beach in Cartagena, Columbia ($310/each) or freaking Johannesburg, South Africa ($710/each).
Which is to say: If you have to fly whatsoever this Thanksgiving week just GTFO of town for real. Just look up how much it costs to see mommykins for turkey and pick literally any comparable location by scanning for cheap airfare sales on Kayak.
Before the Pilgrims made it to the table, “13 out of the 18 wives who came on the Mayflower died.” So being single on Thanksgiving is wicked patriotic.
Why don’t we all do that? Is it tradition?
Then let’s get one thing straight: The first Thanksgiving wasn’t in Plymouth colony. It was on a layover. While waylaid in the fucking Netherlands for 11 years, the Pilgrims celebrated the English observance of Thanksgiving in November before they got to the colonies. This was a day of fasting. The English made up these days to compete with the endless number of Catholic holidays (95 plus 52 Sundays in 1536). Observance of the Spanish Armada and the Gun Powder Plot (“Remember, remember, the fifth of November…”) were also, at one time, observed as days of “Thanksgiving.”
Furthermore—mouthy liberals who like to pick fights after a drink or two—Thanksgiving also doesn’t quite begin the centuries of Native genocide. Pocahontas—long since over the fabulist John Smith and married to another colonist—was already dead in England before the Mayflower set sail. By then, smallpox was already all the rage in the Americas.
And yeah, the men of the Mayflower ate with the natives. But their likeliest meal was deer meat and shellfish. Also, if you think you and your girlfriend fought too much on the way to Thanksgiving, consider this: Before the Pilgrims made it to the table, “13 out of the 18 wives who came on the Mayflower died.” So being single on Thanksgiving is wicked patriotic.
But even more so: Skipping Thanksgiving is the most patriotic thing you can do. The Mayflower went to a strange land on the first Thanksgiving, and you should too. Not because you are going against the holiday, but because you are actually going to experience profound amounts of gratitude. You will be thankful for the people who go to work that day. You will be thankful for your co-conspirators.
You will be thankful that you are not on the flight just ahead of me that got cancelled out of ATL. You will be thankful to return home rested instead of just fat.
Plus, you know everyone will save you some leftovers for Sunday.