These days, bellying up to a bountiful meal, Wall said, is “so last century.” So much so that some Washington area residents say they are trying to opt out of the chow fest and downsize food’s role in the holiday.
For the first time, Julia Paik will spend Thanksgiving morning leading a 5K team to raise money for SOME (So Others Might Eat), an organization that serves the homeless and hungry in Washington. The teams have given themselves names such as “Huffin’ for the Stuffing.” Paik’s seven-member team is called “Shakin’ Jelly, for that Belly!”
“Health is part of it. Also, unemployment is at a record high,” said Paik, 32, who works at a social justice nongovernmental organization and lives in Rockville. “It just seemed like the right thing this year.”
The holiday invariably reflects the times. “Having to look at Thanksgiving over the last 400 years, I find that it’s always a barometer for the country. It’s a shape-shifting holiday,” said Wall. She noted that in the 1970s there was a counterculture movement against Thanksgiving because it seemed to ignore the killings of Native Americans that unfolded in the years after the friendly feast. Some Native American groups held “Days of Mourning” and “Un-Thanksgiving.”
On Thursday, yoga instructor Kimberly Wilson is planning a downward-facing-dog blitz at her Tranquil Space Yoga studios in Dupont Circle and Arlington County, adding more Thanksgiving classes by public demand, with the money going to charity — “so people can spend time in reflection.”
Wilson chose to celebrate Thanksgiving a week early at the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, where rescued turkeys ate first. The birds dined on grapes and apples, while the people enjoyed a vegan potluck.
Part of the emotional tug of Thanksgiving gluttony comes from America’s creation myth: triumphing over scarcity to become the wealthiest nation on the planet. What could be more American than a holiday that celebrates our near-extinction with overindulgence, chuckled Brian Wansink, who served as executive director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion under President George W. Bush from 2007 to 2009.
“It’s a very powerful part of our mythology. We were poor, then we were rich. It impacts us at the table,” said Wansink, author of the book “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.”
As the title of Wansink’s book suggests, the bounty is now the bane. Skeptics say opting out of pumpkin pie and stuffing doesn’t sound like much fun. But Thanksgiving refuseniks fire back that what’s even less fun is a quadruple bypass, diabetes or, perhaps most common, finding that you can’t even fit into your fat pants, much less the skinny ones.