Every year on Nov. 1, the Halloween decorations are taken down and the Christmas trees go up. Suddenly, pumpkin spice is replaced with peppermint on the Starbucks menu. Ugly Christmas sweaters that I firmly believe should never see the light of day are taken out from the back of the closet. It seems like we try to fast-forward straight to Christmas.
I am one of the very few people left who doesn’t try to skip over Thanksgiving. Ever since I was young, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. It’s not just because of the food or because I get to spend time with family, it’s because Thanksgiving is the only holiday that isn’t confusing to me.
I’ve practiced two religions for as long as I can remember, but never felt as though I could fully claim either one.”
I was raised in an interfaith home, so religious holidays have always come with confusion. When I was about five years old, my mom married my stepfather – who is Jewish – and then converted to Judaism herself. Since then, I’ve celebrated every Jewish holiday and taken part in many Jewish traditions. But technically, I’m not Jewish. I was baptized in a Protestant church. Along with Jewish holidays, I celebrate all the Christian ones, too.
I know that growing up with two Christmases and a Hanukkah is nothing to complain about, but it has made religion confusing for me. I love getting to celebrate and learn about both Christianity and Judaism, but I have never really known where I fit in.
My parents have never pushed to me choose one religion over the other, which is very nice of them, but some days I feel as though it would be easier if they had. I’ve practiced two religions for as long as I can remember, but never felt as though I could fully claim either one.
That’s why I love Thanksgiving: Because there is no religion involved. It doesn’t matter what you believe or who you worship, everyone can have some mashed potatoes and gravy.
For me, there is no identity crisis on Thanksgiving similar to the one that typically comes with Christmas or Passover; I can just eat rolls, be with my family and relax. There’s no pressure to find the perfect gift or memorize prayers. All you have to do is talk to your grandparents, play with your little cousins and eat until you fall asleep on the couch.
Yes, I know that the history of Thanksgiving is unsavory, but I am definitely not celebrating colonizers. I’m celebrating stuffing, pumpkin pie and a holiday that does not stir up spiritually-based internal conflict.
Turn off your Christmas playlist and hold off on decorating. The music and tinsel will be just as cheesy and gaudy on Nov. 23.