I need more “time off” on Thanksgiving

Haven Teudt, Staff Writer

Thanksgiving is America’s quintessential family holiday. Many of us have fond memories of delicious food, warm fall colors, and of course, quality time with relatives. Family gatherings filled with good food and good conversation seem like they should be eagerly anticipated every year. And while I do mostly enjoy spending Thanksgiving with my family, sometimes it’s all just a bit too much; there’s too much turkey, too much togetherness, and not nearly enough real “time off.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, and I’m glad that I get to spend time with them during the holidays. But when there are 10-plus people chattering across the table at each other for hours on end, I can’t help but sometimes wish I was back in my room, just listening to music or watching a video by myself. It can get overwhelming having to sit and be engaged at all times just in case the conversation turns to me. And of course, as soon as it does, my relatives start asking about how my classes are going, if I’ve started thinking about college, if I have any big projects for school—all of the subjects I want to avoid talking about on my break from them. 

The simplest solution might seem to be just leaving the dinner table, hiding in another room for a while or even volunteering to wash dishes to get away from the fray. But with conversations constantly flowing and changing subjects, my empty seat at the table would surely be noticed sooner rather than later, and I wouldn’t want to come off as rude or disrespectful. So the most I can do is grit my teeth and bear it, even as my social battery drains by the minute.

School requires a high level of engagement daily to manage the demands of learning, homework, extracurriculars, and the constant socialization with friends and classmates. Juggling these many activities can be mentally and physically exhausting. School breaks are supposed to be times for rest and relaxation for students, where we can recuperate and reset after weeks of hard work. But if I’m constantly being bombarded with requests to “spend time with family,” I can’t catch a moment for myself. And as this cycle repeats year after year, what I end up looking forward to most is being able to spend time alone, becoming more and more withdrawn from the family dinners.

In preparation for this Thanksgiving, I have talked to my parents and let them know how important it is for me to be able to have mental breaks throughout the week. I told them that what parents sometimes see as being lazy or wasting time is actually de-stressing and allowing my mind to wind down. Thankfully, they were receptive and understood my need for time to recharge after several months of school. Being less high-strung will allow me to be fully immersed in the time I do spend with my relatives, and now I can truly look forward to a week of relaxation. So this year, I’m thankful I’ll be able to enjoy time with my family while also being able to bask in some long-awaited “time off.”