Alternative Thanksgiving: 6 ideas for new traditions

Want to make Norman Rockwell roll over in his grave? This Thanksgiving, take your hand out of the turkey’s body cavity and turn off the football game to make some new, alternative traditions and travel plans with friends and family.

A vegetarian yoga retreat or an ethnic food tour of the Lower East Side may seem like an unusual way to spend the Thanksgiving holiday, but making new traditions and seeking new destinations with those you love can be the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.

Here are six ways you can have the best alternative Thanksgiving ever:

1. Laugh

TRADITION: Arguing with family | ALTERNATIVE: Comedy show

If your extended family shares the same religious, political and sports beliefs, you can disregard this tip. (You might need to check that you haven’t accidentally walked onto the set of “Leave It to Beaver,” because we don’t actually believe you.)

Getting a bunch of related, multigenerational people together in close quarters for an extended period of time is more likely to end up looking like something from a slasher film than from a “Brady Bunch” episode.

Relieve the tension and get some much-needed laughter by seeing a comedy show Thanksgiving weekend. There are a bunch of great CNN-suggested comedy clubs in Los Angeles. And here are some other outstanding suggestions scattered around the USA:

— Comedy Works in Denver
— Esther’s Follies in Austin, Texas
— Gotham Comedy Club in New York City
— Impov Asylum in Boston
— Second City in Chicago, Hollywood and Toronto, Canada
— Stand Up Live in Phoenix, Arizona, and Huntsville, Alabama
— Zanies in Nashville, Tennessee

2. Relax

TRADITION: Turkey coma | ALTERNATIVE: Costa Rican yoga retreat

For many people, simply hearing the word “Thanksgiving” evokes memories of too-tight waistbands and a four-hour food coma. While a feast can be a wonderful thing at any time of the year, shake things up during the holiday season by tightening your belt instead of loosening it.

Explore stunning Costa Rica and bring harmony to your life with a calming yoga retreat.

Blue Spirit Costa Rica offers a yoga and recovery retreat that focuses on healing from any and all addictions (turkey can certainly count as an addiction) through morning and afternoon Vinyasa classes and explorations of the surrounding natural landscape. When not meditating or perfecting yoga poses, you can try surfing, swimming, zip lining and whitewater rafting.

Give your body a chance to detox from holiday goodies with the program’s gourmet vegetarian cuisine and its Pure Food Option, which offers meals consisting of crisp greens, grains and legumes without oils or seasonings.

3. Exercise

TRADITION: Lying on the couch | ALTERNATIVE: Move your feet

Food is supposed to give your body energy. If you’re eating enough turkey (and stuffing and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and rolls and pumpkin pie) to send you into a motionless stupor after lunch, that’s probably not healthy.

Even if you can’t imagine Thanksgiving without these delectable dishes, you can counterbalance some of the negative effects with some pre- and post-feast exercise.

Turkey Trots take place all over the country on Thursday, November 23. Here are a handful around the country:

— YMCA Turkey Trot in Buffalo, New York
— Thanksgiving Day 10K Run & Walk in Cincinnati
— Turkey Trot 2017 in Detroit, Michigan
— Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot in San Jose, California
— Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk in Springfield, Missouri

4. New foods

TRADITION: Eating the usual dishes | ALTERNATIVE: Post-Thanksgiving multiethnic tour

It’s almost overwhelming how much time and energy we spend picking out, dressing, cooking and then carefully carving the fattest turkey we can find for Thanksgiving. Not to mention the string of turkey casseroles and sandwiches and soups that follow for weeks afterward.

Turkey can be delicious, but how much do you really want to eat? For an exciting twist, join the post-Thanksgiving multiethnic eating tour on the Lower East Side of New York. Explore the Jewish East Side, Chinatown and Little Italy with other foodies for some spices and flavors that you can’t stuff inside a turkey cavity.

While you stroll the city sampling mouthwatering street foods, be thankful that you aren’t eating yet another can of wobbly cranberry sauce.

5. Soccer

TRADITION: Hours of football | ALTERNATIVE: Soccer match in Scotland

Although Americans traditionally sink back into their couches on Thanksgiving Day to cheer for whichever team has the most players on their fantasy teams, try enjoying a different kind of football with a trip to a Celtic FC match in Scotland.

Sure, you’ll miss such classic NFL matchups. In Scotland, you can actually participate in the uproar of a professional sports game rather than passively watch it in a food coma on your couch.

For 90 minutes of pure action with no pesky stoppages after every down and no padding when the players crash into each other, visit Scotland for a rousing good time in a country that doesn’t take its alcohol lightly.

6. Service

TRADITION: Black Friday shopping | ALTERNATIVE: Thailand service trip

If you usually spend your Thanksgiving evening ripping items away from other people in the Black Friday department stores, stop for a minute. Do you even remember what you bought last year? Consider giving to others during a peaceful trip to Thailand to help preserve its natural elephant habitats.

When you’re not planting and harvesting sugarcane and grass or constructing shade shelters for Surin province’s endangered animals, take Thai cooking classes and peruse the local outdoor markets. Volunteers become familiar with the elephants by feeding, walking and even bathing them.

If the choice is between bathing an elephant and wrenching a 40%-off scarf out of someone’s hand, is it really a choice?