Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated by all in America. The reason is simple: we’re meat eaters and the holiday falls on a Friday. The two are not synonymous; Thanksgiving is a holiday, and we need to celebrate it.
Of course, many of us don’t go to the stores over the holiday, opting instead to cook a meal, or to watch football or just hang out with the family. It’s a day where we can do these things for ourselves and still be thankful. Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday. In more recent years, there have been a number of national holidays – that are associated with Christianity and history, such as Mardi Gras or St. Patrick’s Day – that have taken a bite out of Thanksgiving’s popularity. Some industry experts have estimated that the number of people eating Thanksgiving dinner at home has fallen by as much as 30% over the past few years. But it’s interesting that the casual, large annual eating event, which should have inspired Americans to enjoy turkey legs and stuffing, has gone bye-bye in most places.
Thanksgiving is the single biggest reason for Americans to drive to states with Thanksgiving dinner nearby. A survey by AAA found that 13 million drivers from November to January of each year travel to more than 100 destination spots in order to spend Thanksgiving away from home. In contrast, Memorial Day, which is a Christian holiday in the US, saw only a 7% drop in the number of people traveling over the weekend. This according to AAA, which surveyed both passengers and drivers.
Places with Thanksgiving meal close to home are a dime a dozen. Some of the leading destinations include cities like New York, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, and San Francisco, which are all within driving distance. Others, like Portland, Maine, don’t even offer a Thanksgiving meal within close proximity, but still see a huge increase in holiday travelers. Some of these hot spots will receive 30% more Thanksgiving-goers than a city that has no meal close by. Those travelers are much cheaper to fill up than those who have to drive to an expensive destination.
Tack on the fact that the US is melting away, and the future of Thanksgiving isn’t looking bright. Over the past 30 years, the number of Americans without permanent US residency has risen to 33 million. This means that Thanksgiving road trips, which used to be seen as out-of-reach luxuries for Americans to indulge in, are becoming more common. On average, the average Thanksgiving-bound traveler spends $680 – double the typical Thanksgiving trip. The most popular Thanksgiving destination for Americans? Sandusky, Ohio. More than 37,000 people visit the town on Thanksgiving to shop or cheer on their favorite football team, according to USA Today.
So this year, spend Thanksgiving week eating at home with your family. Relax. Though it may be nice to drive somewhere to go on the big day, you won’t need much more than blankets to lounge out. You’ll also have prepared meals to enjoy, and plenty of fuel – gas is about the cheapest it’s been in years. Who cares if you have to shell out for a Thanksgiving meal somewhere other than your native state? Spend that dollar at home.