Next Thursday will mark the first Thanksgiving I’ve ever spent away from home. I have no doubt that it will not be the last holiday I celebrate away from my family in Georgia, but being away from them on this particular occasion makes me sad because I know I will miss seeing and interacting with my family members on my favorite holiday out of the year.
I’m sure to some people Thanksgiving is nothing more than an excuse to gorge on turdurken (turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken), mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and while taking a few days away from work or school. While my father is an amazing cook, the holiday means more to me than that. Even after outgrowing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and realizing that the pilgrims did not show proper gratitude to the Native Americans at all, I still love Thanksgiving. I have wonderful memories associated with this time of year, and it is saddening to think that I won’t be home to watch my family’s holiday peculiarities unfold, like my father doing what we call the turkey dance before he stuffs the bird and puts it in the oven.
While my family is decidedly eccentric, we’ve always held to the tradition of taking Thanksgiving weekend to really appreciate the blessings in our lives. My mother makes us go around the table after eating and share one thing we’re thankful for in our lives. Answers have varied through the years, ranging from sweet to poignant, with responses including everything from good health to sarcasm to thankfulness for my father’s military orders being revoked. Just stopping to think for a moment about something for which you are truly grateful is a wonderful exercise to keep cynicism at bay.
Thanksgiving weekend always reminds me that I shouldn’t take all the special, intimate moments in life for granted; in reality there is no promise that I’ll experience them ever again. Even here at Colgate, appreciation so often comes after the fact. From a crazy first night on campus with the newspaper crew, to seeing snow in October, to stargazing in the middle of Hamilton with someone who would go on to break my heart; when I think back to this year, there are memories that I will absolutely cherish when, at the time, I didn’t think they would stick with me past the next week.
The nostalgia and the togetherness of Thanksgiving are why it remains my favorite holiday. The name of the celebration implies a time for giving thanks and being appreciative of what is good in life. I find it disheartening that such a valid message is commercialized into a celebration of food and post-Thanksgiving sales. I challenge people to look beyond the table to the people sitting across from them. Maybe it’s a mother, a roommate, a significant other meeting the whole family for the first time. Every second spent in that room together is one that has potential to be recalled somewhere down the road. Twenty years from now, I’ll be able to look at my older brother and ask if he remembers that one Thanksgiving when the kittens got stuck in a tree, and I know he’ll remember. We were paying attention to the moment. So while engaging in delightful gluttony on Thanksgiving, keep in mind just what holiday is being celebrated. Make it a personal mission to make this Thanksgiving count, by taking the time to express affection, goodwill, and of course, thankfulness.