Thanksgiving Is the Ultimate Cheapskate Holiday
Winter is coming. We’re not going broke yet.
After all the tallies, after all the calculations and negotiating… I’m buying Christmas presents for 27 people this year. Yes, I’m freaking out a little. Most people are getting things under $30, if not under $20. I’m already debating whether I should bust out the credit cards.
But I technically don’t have to think about that cost just yet. Before Christmas, tightwads like me get a little holiday of our own. It’s the greatest day of the year for us: Thanksgiving.
Yes, Thanksgiving’s supposed to be a day all about celebrating how much we have and enjoying a day of plenty. News flash: Traditional Thanksgiving dinners aren’t as expensive as they used to be. It’s not a sign of wealth to cook a turkey in your oven anymore. You can coupon the crap out of that.
In fact, you can coupon the crap out of anything you could want for Thanksgiving. Not that you’d need to, necessarily. Cranberry sauce will only run you a couple bucks nowadays. Ditto for stuffing. Turkeys are particularly cheap in 2016 due to an overabundance of the little gobblers. It doesn’t take much cash to follow Thanksgiving traditions.
At its heart, Thanksgiving is a fairly straightforward holiday. People come together and eat delicious food. You can make some nice paper hats or draw some hand turkeys if you want, but that’s just icing on the cake. You make a lot of food and that’s it. Maybe watch a parade or some football, but that’s free with your cable or streaming service. There’s no Elf on the Shelf of Thanksgiving, where people say it’s optional but will silently judge you for all eternity if you don’t participate.
Beyond donating to food banks and making sure elderly people have enough to eat (a noble pursuit every day of the year), Thanksgiving really isn’t about generosity. It’s about family and friends coming together and giving what they can. You’re technically not obligated to provide everything for everyone. Having a potluck-style Thanksgiving is practically the norm, and if there’s a surefire way to make a cheapskate excited, it’s the phrase “We’ve decided to make it a potluck.”
Even travel on Thanksgiving is optional! Friendsgiving is now a thing and it is a miracle. Bring your buddies over, tell everyone to bring a dish, and save your cash for Christmas. Everyone’s happy.
I wonder if I’ve accidentally hit upon the reason why Thanksgiving has evolved to become the Cheapskate Christmas: Real Christmas is only getting bigger. If you don’t go to Christmas parties, you’re a Grinch. If you don’t give presents to everyone under the sun, you’re a Scrooge. If you don’t do Elf on the Shelf, you’re a Weirdo Who Clearly Isn’t Happy In Their Life. We’re more willing to compromise on Thanksgiving as a way of acknowledging the financial tyranny of Christmas.
But you know something? I’m okay with that reality at the moment. Maybe in a month I’ll make it my mission to take down the financial doomsday that is Christmas. Right now, I’m content to sit back and enjoy some good food with my family and friends. I’m ready to enjoy this holiday and revel in my cheapskate nature, knowing that at last I am not alone.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May you spend little and enjoy much.
Brit McGinnis is a copywriter and author of several books. Her work has appeared on XOJane, SparkNotes and anywhere fine stories are sold. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
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