Whether alone or with a family, be thankful

As Thursday approaches, the amount of students in classes is quickly dwindling, as many are heading home to be with loved ones as long as possible before the Thanksgiving holiday is over.

Thanksgiving – the holiday that marks the time when the pilgrims and Indians sat down to dinner – is generally thought of as a holiday to enjoy the company of family and stuff one’s face with turkey and dozens of side dishes. Society considers this the cultural norm, but as many know from personal experience, this is not always what Thanksgiving entails.

The stuffing-one’s-face-with-food part of Thanksgiving is something Americans are quite good at, as the average American ate an average of 14 pounds of turkey in 2000, “no doubt a good bit of it at Thanksgiving time,” the U.S. Census Bureau said. However, enjoying the family part of Thanksgiving can be difficult for many.

With family, “we let our guards down just a little bit,” said Peter Post, author of Essential Manners for Couples, in an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We have to be careful to remember that these people are not just our brothers and sisters. They’re our guests and hosts. It’s not the time to air dirty laundry and bring up past fights.”

For those who do not have a family, the holidays – which are presented in society as the prime time to be with family – can be more difficult.

“Loneliness can be accentuated,” said Jed Magen, associate professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University, “especially when individuals who have few relationships compare themselves with others who are seeing relatives and/or friends.”

Some people may get caught up in thinking that their Thanksgiving situation is so abysmal because they have to work, or they have to listen to their mom get into a screaming match with their grandma about the turkey being cooked long enough, or they’re all alone and have nothing more to keep them company than a Real World marathon and a pint of cookie dough ice cream.

Regardless of their situation, Thanksgiving is a time of the year when individuals can reflect on what they are thankful for in their lives. It is a time to indulge – or in some cases, overindulge – on the finer things in life, whether that is feasting on turkey or soaking in a nice warm bubble bath.

This time of year is the time to treat oneself right.