Pumpkin Pie Panic

From travel woes to sibling tension, get help for Thanksgiving's challenges. 

Coping with Thanksgiving Day Blues

How to manage Thanksgiving Day blues.

"There is no enlightenment outside of daily life." Thich Nhat Hanh

Okay, so it's Thanksgiving Day and you're not thankful. Wherever you're supposed to be today, you don't want to be there. It's a lousy day to have off from work, since everything's closed - gym, restaurants (unless you want to hang out with a bunch of families eating Thanksgiving Dinner out), even the movie theater. You know you're going to end up the day, whether you're alone or with a crowd, feeling miserable. Whatever you do or don't do today, it will be too much - too much food, drink, company, noise, silence, aloneness.

Besides, you have nothing to be thankful for. Well, that may not be completely true, of course, but when you look around at this world we live in, all you can think about are the terrible problems we face. Fighting in Korea, starvation and illness everywhere, conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, economic crisis, housing crisis, global warming, terrorism...

And you haven't even started counting whatever personal problems you may be struggling with.

I can't offer a one-day cure for either of the above; but I can give you a few suggestions to get you through today, whether you're cooking for a crowd or eating alone, spending the day with friends or with your chaotic and dysfunctional family, or any other variation on the theme.

1. Remember that the image of the loving and happy family gathering for a Thanksgiving celebration is a myth, not a reality. In all likelihood, there are more people just trying to get through the day than really enjoying it. (Check out my earlier post on a low calorie Thanksgiving, for example.) You are not alone!

2. Try not to force yourself to feel something you're not feeling. If you're not thankful, so be it. You're not a bad person for feeling what you feel. Maybe tomorrow or the next day you'll have a moment of gratitude. It will have every bit as much value if it's not on Thanksgiving Day - maybe it'll be even more meaningful, because you're not feeling it because you "should."

3. Sometime during the day, try to reach out to someone who may be having an even worse time than you. It may make you feel lousy to hear how unhappy they are, but it might also make you feel better to know that you have given them a minute or two of solace.

4. Remember: nothing is pure. A wonderful day has its moments of pain and sadness; and a miserable one has its instants of pleasure, if not actual joy. Pay attention to each moment. Breathe into the difficult ones and into the lovely ones as well. Each one will soon be gone. Just as pleasure is not permanent, neither is sadness or pain. Tomorrow will be here soon.