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Thanks, But No Thanksgiving for Me

Thanksgiving is a holiday without a heart. A feast without a focus. Forget the hoopla about "gratitude" for good health, good fortune, good families, good jobs. Let's get real. We're together for two reasons; to watch football and eat turkey. Too much turkey.
11/13/2015 01:45pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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Whole Homemade Thanksgiving Turkey with All the Sides

Thanksgiving is a holiday without a heart. A feast without a focus.

Forget the hoopla about "gratitude" for good health, good fortune, good families, good jobs. Let's get real.

We're together for two reasons; to watch football and eat turkey. Too much turkey.

Not at my house. We gave up Thanksgiving when my youngest entered 2nd grade -- the year her teacher organized a field trip to a local turkey production farm.

The experience devastated her.

"Turkeys have faces," my baby announced when she came home. "Sweet, sad little faces."

2015-11-12-1447352417-7956382-turkeyface.jpg
Turkeys have faces. Sweet, sad little faces.

She couldn't spell "vegetarian," but she was one.

Bad Mommy. Bad, bad mommy.

I was new at single motherhood -- and not all that comfortable at it. In those days, we lived in a small Minnesota town -- a community over-populated with successful, intact families.

If there were other divorced women in town, I couldn't find them. The winter holidays presented a challenge -- and I rose to it with enthusiasm.

Halloween -- my daughter's hand-sewn costume was always original and unique enough to inspire the envy of every other mother on my block.

Christmas -- I hung roof-line C9 holiday lights, stuffed my window boxes with fresh greens and baked for every charity in town.

I wasn't going to fail at Thanksgiving. I determined to create a meal that would cause the entire community to rise up and call me blessed -- or die trying.

And so it came to pass -- while married mothers all over town wrestled with their husband's mother's recipe for turkey dressing, I set about to create my own Thanksgiving tradition.

I roasted a beautiful, milky brown tofurkey in broccoli water.

I served it with stewed wild rice.

For dessert -- I baked a gluten free pumpkin pie.

My daughter was not impressed.

"This isn't about meat," she announced. "This is about Native Americans."

Huh?

"I refuse," she said, "to celebrate a tradition that elevates Euro-Americans over indigenous people."

This is what happens when you push a child to think for herself.

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As the twig is bent, so grows the -- well, you know.

According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American will consume more than 4500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving day.

Left to our national traditions of greed and overeating, most of us will gain an additional ten pounds by the close of 2015.

Every parent knows that the old adage is dead wrong. You can bend the twig -- but the tree doesn't care about your soy-based mushroom dressing. The damn twig will grow as it chooses.

Today, my daughter and her husband celebrate their own traditions.

Instead of using the Thanksgiving weekend to overeat, they ski the frozen lakes of Minnesota, hike the Superior trail. Sometimes they fly to Chicago and catch a show.

I suspect my future grandchildren are destined to grow up strong, healthy and light.

They may never know the sleepy consequences of consuming massive quantities of L-tryptophan and carbohydrates.

I guess that's something to be thankful for.

You know what? Maybe I wasn't such a bad mommy after all.