I’ve always loved irony.
It gives me a good chuckle when characters I despise in novels or “Game of Thrones” fell to an ironic fate.
Well, in a twisted turn of events, I’m no longer laughing. Irony was all fun and games until it unhinged its claws and dug its way into my own life.
Next week, I turn 21 years old. It’s a day I’ve anticipated my whole college career. My 21st birthday means I can finally accompany friends to Maxi’s on a Tuesday afternoon. I can gamble away the money I don’t have at a casino. Basically, everything and nothing is changing — but it’s still something to celebrate.
Except, I can’t. At least, not morally. This year, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving, a holiday I’ve actively protested since I was young.
It started with a disgust for the texture and blandness of turkey. I couldn’t stand the taste, and instead made plant-based meatloaf or skipped meat altogether — prompting vegan jokes from my younger brother.
In 2013, a couple of months before November, I remember my mom showed me her calendar. The words “Thanksgiving Day” screamed at me under the date of my birthday. The calendar sealed my fate — I was sharing my birthday with the holiday I loathed. I sobbed that day, plus the day before and the day of Thanksgiving.
And on that day, I sat with my arms crossed angrily, my nose turned at the smell of turkey and felt anger for whoever was responsible for double-booking my birthday. Like the Grinch and Christmas, I wanted to do away with Thanksgiving.
But as I got older and certain aspects of Thanksgiving became more apparent, my disapproval of the holiday evolved into something much more complex. I had a cornucopia of annoyances, stuffed to the brim with Thanksgiving cheer. Within it, you can find animal cruelty and the never-ending climb of corporate greed.
For a day based on giving thanks, there is nothing to be thankful for. In actuality, it makes me wistful for a Thanksgiving Day that isn’t founded on notions I can’t support.
Forty-five million turkeys will be slaughtered just for dinner on Nov. 28, TIME reported. I feel guilty, even as someone who doesn’t eat it, to see it glistening under my dining room’s chandelier. About 204 million pounds of those birds will be wasted, as more were killed than needed, according to Natural Resources Defense Council. And that’s just the turkey.
Thanksgiving ushers in a movement of panic, materialism and a need for satisfaction. We’re mostly thankful for what we can buy and provide — not for our health and opportunity. Talk about irony.
I have friends and family members who invest more time into preparing for Black Friday shopping than making a Thanksgiving meal. NBC’s Macy’s Day Parade is jam-packed with advertisements and company-promoted balloons. Don’t get me started on the Christmas commercials.
But this is nothing new — capitalism has always thrived during this holiday season.
No one can escape a promising Thanksgiving Day deal. In fact, deals are so popular that superstores like Walmart and Target are open on Thursday, enticing shoppers to leave their homes and barring retail employees from festivities.
How can I be celebrating my birthday, when purchases, anxieties and being politically correct at the dinner table concerns everyone around me? I can’t name a year when my mom didn’t slave over a meal, panicking that our food would go cold as she sliced the turkey.
The main reason I began to realize the horrors of this holiday was because of my birthday. The fact that I’ve shared two birthdays with Thanksgiving — this year being the third — is eye-opening.
Here’s the positive: I’m thankful I’m no longer blinded by the falsehood of Thanksgiving. I understand its negative impacts. I see how it uses holiday cheer to enforce corporate benefits.
And that’s why I make vegan meatloaf. That’s why I’ll never drive to New York City to watch balloons wave at me from the sky. That’s why I don’t set an alarm for 5 a.m. on Black Friday.
My birthday gives me the chance to verbalize my anti-Thanksgiving sentiment. I usually clench my teeth and smile away the pain to keep the peace, but now I don’t have to. After booking a hotel in Toronto, Canada, for my birthday, I will be absent from the United States and feel no qualms as I rain on anyone’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Even though I’ll always have a connection to this holiday, I don’t have to support it.