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November 27, 2006

-- Senior journal --

Gluttony? No thanks

By Michel Lee

I didn’t eat much this Thanksgiving.

Oh, the HORROR! Your head spins, your stomach growls menacingly, and you reach across the table to slap some sense into this girl.

What was it, you ask? Diet? Diabetes? Amputation? Masochism? A monastic vow?

No, my reason for not submitting to the gluttonous festivities of Turkey Day are none of those above reasons, nor is it related to the fact that I am vegetarian. It is simply that I, lover of mashed potatoes and tofu turkey, was not hungry.

We, a collective we, including the general population of the United States – aside from all two-legged, feathered creatures whose names begin with the letter “t” – have over the years contrived a pseudo-obligation to observe the all-American thanksgiving.

Come mid-October, observe the rich brown, the bright orange, the deep yellow, and the harvest green decking the halls of any Target or Wal-Mart.

Turkey goes on sale for half-price at Save Mart, 10 brands of stuffing appear on the shelves, and Americans are swept unwittingly into a cornucopia of … thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving? More like gluttony and tradition.

And, as evidenced by our bulging wastelines, this holiday entails the one tradition of stuffing oneself until one can stuff no more.  Yes, this is one day in which we eat without guilt, paying little heed to the hundreds of calories that pass through the lips and straight to the hips (sorry, I couldn’t resist) because after all, we can burn it off in the mad Black Friday rush.

So when my pangs of hunger failed to surface this Thanksgiving, I was not a little surprised. Perhaps I could say that I felt even a bit horrified and guilty for wasting the one day where gluttony is well-justified.

I forced myself to eat the requisite plate of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potatoes. When asked if I wanted pie, I reluctantly accepted a dish and dug in, holding my breath.

I couldn’t go one Thanksgiving without pie. Or could I? 

In retrospect, I still feel guilty. But it is not the same guilt as I felt that Thursday.

No, it is a feeling of bittersweet sadness. I have always prided myself on withstanding the less noble traditions of this country, picking only the best and combining it with my own ideas.

I submitted this year by allowing myself to be guilt-tripped into eating more than I needed or even wanted.

Perhaps I am not as impenetrable by tradition and society as I had once thought. That, my friends, is a humbling and daunting thought.

But there is always light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, though I admit I’ve never been one to enjoy tunnels in the first place. This year, it comes in the form of Christmas.

I have yet to challenge the jolly season of massive consumerism, clad deceptively in white and red stripes and garish wrapping paper.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Read Michel Lee's piece about Thanksgiving 2005 here:

Between Plymouth Rock and a hard place

 


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