I am sad this year. I am sad many years at this time because my sister’s birthday is Nov. 16, and Thanksgiving was one of the few holidays we consistently spent together. I’m sad because my aunt is no longer here to make the one thing we ever called upon her to make for the holidays (she had many skills and talents, but cooking was not one of them), her cloyingly sweet yet nostalgically appealing ambrosia salad with a variety of canned fruits, mini-marshmallows, Cool Whip, and maraschino cherries. I’m sad because Ruby will be with her dad’s family in Missouri for Thanksgiving, and I already know I’m going to miss her terribly the whole time. I’m sad about the election, and no, I’m not going to get over it any time soon. I’m sad because it gets dark at 5 p.m. now. I’m sad because sometimes, at least for me, being in the thick of raising young kids can just be really lonely.

But I am not, at my core, a sad person. I think my baseline is actually fairly upbeat, and I definitely find joy in mundane things: folding a basket of warm laundry, cat videos on the Internet, watching Ruby play volleyball extremely poorly but still shaking hands at the end of the game, drinking my coffee every morning, Georgia blowing me a kiss and yelling after me, “Hold on to your cheek, Mama, so it doesn’t blow away!”

So I am enacting a plan to cheer myself up, a Thanksgiving survival guide of sorts, that will get me through the holiday and the long weekend that follows.


  1. Eat good food. I have no plans to diet this week at all. I want carbs, and I want cheese, together when possible.
  2. Exercise. I feel weird saying this because it seems so hokey, and I am really not the kind of person who loves to exercise. I don’t mind taking a walk with friends, but I will pretty much always choose reading a book over riding a bike. That said, I’ve had to accept that I truly feel so much better when I exercise.
  3. No politics. Not among likeminded friends and not among people who disagree. Just none at all. I am bingeing on cheese and fasting on politics. Neither of these things will last, but I am relying on them to get me through the holiday.
  4. Buy nothing. If you were to describe my absolute nightmare, it would be Black Friday: crowds, bad energy, frenzies over cheap TVs. Nope nope nope. I want no part of any of that. Again, this is not a forever goal, but over the Thanksgiving weekend, I want to enjoy the things I have, not buy more crap I don’t need.


Of course, I’ll do the other everyday things I always do: kiss my husband, call my mom, have lunch with my dad, snuggle my kids, text my friends, read books in the bathtub, keep the house vaguely non-squalid. 

And maybe, if I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll make my own version of my Aunt Libby’s ambrosia salad — more fresh fruit, less Cool Whip, but plenty of Southern charm mixed in.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all — I hope it’s full of joy (and cheese) and free of stress!