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Ideally, Thanksgiving is about reconnecting with family and old friends, and being grateful for all those things you usually take for granted. In reality, many of us treat the holiday like a rehearsal dinner for Christmas, and slurp down comfort food until every breath is a struggle. At this point the only thanks you’re giving are reserved for whoever dropped the remote in your lap. I’m not going to lie; I’ve been there in portion-control purgatory, letting the Titans game wash over me.

While packing your gullet with “cranberries” still in the shape of the can has its charms, you may be trying to create some more meaningful Thanksgiving traditions this year. If so, check out our cornucopia of novel Turkey Day ideas.....

Thanksgiving Day Races AtlantaTurkey Run

While most people are still dreaming of eating thousands of calories, hundreds of brave runners will be preparing to burn thousands of calories in Atlanta’s Thanksgiving Day Races. The Atlanta Track Club organizes the event, which starts at 7:30 in the morning and hosts a 13 mile half-marathon, a 5k, the “Mashed Potato Mile” and the “Drum Stick Dash.” The festivities are kept to a minimum to make sure everyone gets back to their families in time for lunch; there’s not even an awards ceremony for the winners! The best part? A completely guilt-free smorgasbord when you get home. Tickets range from $5 for the Drum Stick Dash to $65 for the half marathon.

The Reason for the Season-ingFram Sanctuary

Have you ever thought it was funny how they call it “Turkey Day,” when turkeys definitely don’t have a reason to celebrate? You’re not the only one. If the idea of a meatless Thanksgiving appeals to you, then you might want to spend your Thanksgiving with the good folks at Farm Sanctuary. This organization promotes animal welfare and offers a refuge for abused animals. They host a charity vegan “Celebration for the Turkeys” to raise money for their organization. Diners at their Watkin’s Glen, NY, or Orland, CA events will be treated to a gourmet vegan meal, live entertainment, and a silent auction. Tickets for the Orland event are $75 a person; at Watkin’s Glen tickets run $50.

Nontraditional Thanksgiving mealsMenu Mix-up

I have a confession: I love the traditional Thanksgiving offerings. Whether it is sweet potatoes overflowing with marshmallows, green beans with more bacon than beans, or that green Jell-o stuff with the fruit in it, I pile it all on my plate with aplomb. Even so, the highlight of my Thanksgiving is usually whatever my Uncle - who grew up in Afghanistan - brings to the table. The succulent lamb or chicken and rice is a welcome change of pace from the more traditional fare, and adding a little foreign flavor to your menu can really spice up your holiday, too. Challenge your guests to bring their favorite foreign dish (pizza doesn’t count) or go with a different theme every year. If that’s a little too ambitious then try new twists on the classics. Turkey burgers anyone?

Fattening Up Your WalletBuy Nothing Day

Usually adding “Black” in front of a day of the week means a national tragedy occurred that day (think “Black Monday” for the 1929 stock market crash). Although the day after Thanksgiving – “Black Friday” – is called that because it usually puts companies “in the black” for the year (it’s the day they start turning a profit), we think it would qualify as a tragedy. On this day vendors lure herds of food-addled shoppers with great deals; if they can survive the crushing waves of fellow bargain hunters.

If you’d rather avoid the shopping rush, then you’re the perfect convert for Adbuster’s “Buy Nothing Day.” The day protests the rampant consumerism that has taken over the holidays. Besides the obvious way to participate – not buying anything – BND enthusiasts host free street parties, hikes, bike rides, and zombie walks, where participants wander around stores like extras from a Romero flick.

Less is More

If you’re not into civil disobedience, but still think the holiday is too much about food, and not enough about giving thanks, then maybe you need to simplify your holiday. When time with family is your focus, a quick round of turkey sandwiches is better than the juiciest bird from Butterball. Rent a bad movie, go bowling, or blow the dust off your favorite board game and share it with your family or just a group of friends. Maybe this Thanksgiving, you can be grateful for what you have, without just being thankful when it’s over. / Issue 164 - September 1855
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