The event that Americans commonly call “the first Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. This feast lasted three days, and was attended by about 53 Pilgrims and 90 American Indians, though sources vary on these numbers.

Many people consider Thanksgiving a spiritual day to give thanks for our abundant lives.

Do I focus on gratitude, thankfulness and appreciation to our forefathers for their courage in moving to a new land? Does Thanksgiving cause me to feel blessed? Does this holiday give me the opportunity to feed the homeless or do some other charitable work? No!

The horn of plenty for me is a whole bunch of delicious food. Cuisines I don’t sample all year long, like turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, make my mouth water. Why do I partake of pumpkin pie only on this day of feasting? I don’t know.

Memories of Thanksgiving dinners past reveal semi-disastrous situations. Once I passed out for two hours in my sister-in-law’s bedroom because I ate so much. What about the time I ate half a bowl of mashed potatoes? The next year the same hostess prepared extra potatoes so other guests would get their fair share. How many times did I wear a skirt with an elastic waist so I wouldn’t have to unbutton my clothing?

Life teaches us lessons. Eventually I tired of feeling bloated, sleepy and just plain sick from overeating. Instead of going into the kitchen where the stuffed turkey, pies and other goodies were there for the taking, I started conversing with the other guests. Instead of having two pieces of pumpkin pie, I ate one, passing on the whipped cream. And you may not believe this, but I stopped having a roll with dinner, knowing bread would inflate in my stomach, causing distress by the end of the meal.

An interesting side effect to my controlling my desire to eat everything in sight is that I transferred this control to other aspects of my life. It was as if someone waved a magic wand over me explaining that more is not better.

A new concept had arrived. Instead of renting five movies at a time, I reduced it to three and eventually figured out streaming. There was no reason to have a dozen Christmas sweaters. Three would suffice. Indulgence and gluttony turned into rational thinking.

After several years, I could classify myself a minimalist. Instead of filling my garage to bursting with stuff I might need someday, I donated to Goodwill. If I didn’t wear something for two years it was time to let someone else make use of it.

Occasionally I’d look for something before realizing I’d given it away. But so what? Did I really need it?

Enjoy your Thanksgiving with loving friends and relatives around your table. May you feel full but not stuffed. And if you really want that second piece of pumpkin pie, go ahead. Just skip the whipped cream.

Alexis Powers is the author of several books and lives on the northwest side. Email her at or view her website at