Thanksgiving stress used to focus on two things: food and family. It might be a lot of work to get the feast on the table, there might be some tension over competitive pie baking or dieters vs. potato pushers, and families didn’t become perfect just because there was a holiday in progress — but it was just one day.
The Thanksgiving experience may now begin with Friendsgiving celebrations a week or more before the day, and complex families with multiple marriages may still be holding multiple Thanksgiving dinners through the weekend. Even people who enjoy turkey and the trimmings a lot may begin to feel less enthusiastic after five sweet potato casseroles.
For introverts, multiple holiday feasts can be exhausting, and children may begin to act out when they reach their limit.
If Thanksgiving is over, you may still have more to deal with. Black Friday shopping was once something women could bond over while the menfolks watched football. We don’t divide entertainment by gender any more, and Black Friday is no longer either the beginning or the end of the shopping days.
Now some family members may start their shopping on Thanksgiving day, but that’s controversial enough that it might leave disapproving family members home resentfully washing dishes or feeling sad at the truncated family time.
Black Friday pits young ecommerce shoppers against those who make a tradition of brick and mortar Black Friday shopping. And then there’s Small Business Saturday, CyberMonday (now Cyber Weekend at plenty of online shops), and Giving Tuesday, each of which comes with its own set of moral and political baggage to unpack.
If you started with #30DaysofGratitude and Christmas means overconsumption from now till January, it may all be too much.
Those of us who used to dread Thanksgiving now have what may be an intolerable build up and wind down that can segue almost without a break into the already inflated Christmas season. Those of us who enjoyed Thanksgiving may feel that it’s either swallowed up by the Christmas consumption machine or that a formerly low key holiday has now grown into something excessive.
If Thanksgiving stress has outlasted Turkey Day, consider taking steps:
- Make limits. If you enjoy shopping enough to make it a five day event, go for it. If not, don’t let the way those shopping days have gotten grafted onto the holiday make you feel like it’s a tradition that must be kept.
- Take care of yourself. Yesterday might have included more pie and bourbon than you really need, but you can reset right now and get back to healthy eating, regular exercise, and a full night’s sleep. Be sure to get enough water today, too, especially if Thanksgiving was a no-holds-barred feast day for you.
- Schedule some calming time. If that means time alone, so be it. If it’s quiet time with your kids, let other relatives know that the children need some settle down time — it’s probably the truth. A massage or a movie will be refreshing for some, while a hike or house cleaning may work better for others. Use your memories or your journal to determine the most relaxing choice for you, and then make that choice without apology.