In one week, it will finally be Thanksgiving. I have been desperately waiting for this five-day break for ages, and I can only guess how badly you all need it too. I am tired, burnt out, over it all, and, quite frankly, done with this semester. I have Stage Four Senioritis and this time away is the only thing that may prevent me from pulling a proverbial “mic drop” and saying “deuces” to all the “cares” I should be giving in regards to my GPA.
The fall semester has always been a rough time for me. I come back energized from summer break with the mindset that I am ready for the new academic year with wide-eyed optimism. I come to campus ready to continue my dedicated involvement in my many clubs and organizations, study my heart out to achieve A’s in all my classes, and somehow find time to fit in a social life as well. However, what actually ends up happening is a whole other story. Let’s just say that I have been on the “struggle bus” for a while. I’m just glad I’m finally going to be getting time off soon.
Thanksgiving is a time to—well—give thanks. We all know the story about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans, how Pocahontas fell in love with John Smith and saved the Europeans from starving with her raccoon and hummingbird friends, only to have the Europeans return the favor by killing her people with smallpox and racism… or something like that. Regardless, it wasn’t our finest hour in history.
Today, the holiday has become like Halloween, Christmas and Cinco de Mayo: co-opted and Americanized for mass consumption. This article is not about raging against our historical atrocities, a call-to-action against shopping on Black Friday, or even a commentary on our nation’s archaic practice of the death penalty by our President’s yearly pardoning of a turkey. Yes—our nation’s ancestors have done horrible things in creating this nation, and we must do everything in our power to fight racism, prejudice and genocide wherever it still lurks.
While shopping on Black Friday is a cute tradition that allows many to make big savings, it creates a system where employers can exploit their employees during a time of the year where they know money is tight, and ultimately deprives these people of a true holiday with their loved ones. And don’t even get me started on the fact that every year we joke about the ethical implications of a fully democratized nation continuing a horrifically unethical practice that most nation’s in the world have outlawed by allowing the “leader of the free world” to decide which turkey lives and which “fries.” But again, that is neither here nor there.
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction,” Harry A. Ironside once said. Yes—it is cheesy, but this holiday holds a special place in my heart. The message of the holiday is in the name: it is about remembering the beauty of your life and the things in it that make it so. For example, I am privileged to have amazing friends that are doing the things they have always wanted. They are studying abroad, writing movie scripts and plays, applying for graduate school, making presentations at international conferences, acting and singing in front of sold out crowds, teaching the next generation of students, and learning how to save lives. At times, we all have our setbacks, yet it is not stopping us. We are slowly making our dreams come true. On a more personal note, my family is doing well. We are healthy and happy. My parents and I are beyond thrilled that my younger brother just got accepted to college, and they can’t believe their firstborn is about to graduate college. And while this year has been difficult with the loss of my grandmother, we all feel better knowing that even through these difficult times, we are here for one another regardless. Being able to get together and share a nice meal, if only for one night, is a miracle in itself. Yes—the semester has been rough. But, I can honestly say I’m in a better place to handle it than before.
Thanksgiving is a time to remember these things and appreciate how far we have come from where we were. I know things are not perfect; I still have many things to stress over. In the end, though, I am grateful to have at least one day where I am allowed to put all that aside and focus on the things—and, more importantly, the people—that really matter. To you all, I hope the very same, and in the words of William Wordsworth: “Rest and be thankful.”
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