Thanksgiving, as it does each year, tends to draw the short end of the stick when it comes to major holidays in the colder months of the year. With the powerhouse December holidays menacingly looking down on Turkey Day and Halloween--especially on college campuses--having ruffled enough feathers (or should I say put many livers out of commission for a hot minute), it seems to me that Thanksgiving gets pushed to the back burner quite easily.
Unless you're trying to score a job as an actor in the historical reenactment of the first Thanksgiving at Plimoth Plantation, it's easier to see why dressing up as a sexy [insert any profession] beats out a scantily-clad pilgrim. The hype that Halloween garners gives Thanksgiving barely any media time at all, with Black Friday shopping sales and marketing schemes flying up immediately after kids fall asleep late Halloween night, still drooling over the 36 mini-Twix bars they just crammed into their tiny stomachs. People would rather watch World Star Hip Hop videos of ridiculous Black Friday related deaths leading up to Thanksgiving than read up on our nation's history; indeed, who can blame them? Watching people feverishly trample one another to acquire clothing, video games, and home appliances is beyond amusing.
But I digress.
On the flip side, the build-up to Christmas is the most drawn out, yet quite enjoyable event of the year. I call the 'build-up' an event for the simple reason that it is just that: an event. People love reminiscing about Christmases past; the best (and quite commonly, the worst) presents they ever received; and, my personal favorite: giving themselves a reason to listen to Bing Crosby and Frank Sonatra and think about what it would be like to be able to be that good-looking, musically talented, and suave. Heck, Christmas is so culturally popular due to Mariah Carey seductively serenading us through department store speaker systems alone that I know Jewish families that find reasons to celebrate the Holiday as well!
Now, before I get myself in trouble for accidentally making an ignorant remark regarding religion as I attempt to knock this blog out before the lack of food in my stomach knocks me out, I want to hop back on the Thanksgiving Praise Team Train for a moment.
In between the blockbuster events of Halloween and the December Holiday Season, Thanksgiving has become the hidden gem of the Holiday season for college students. The break is minimal, and exams await to thrash your self-esteem and sleep cycle to bits on the other side. When it is all said and done, there isn't a whole lot of time to really internalize what an important reminder Thanksgiving is. Sure, it's about eating so much you pass out. Sure it's about watching football 'till you pass out. Honestly, it's also about watching that one random, hilarious family member consume enough Eggnog that they, too, pass out. But as we find all of these superficial reasons for relaxing--and as I seem to have pinpointed, becoming unconscious--it is imperative that we stay conscious of the true value of this particular Holiday.
Stay focused. We're almost at the "Ah Hah!" moment. I promise.
We're all at different points in our lives. I'm a 19-year-old Pats fan who would rather go out on the town with Brady and Gronk than make a slew of average commercials with Peyton and Eli Manning because my whole life, I've grown up in New England. My point is that, at some point, my father sat me in front of the TV and pointed at Bill Belichick (a real-life villain for most of America and the quintessential modern day Darth Vadar) and said, "Alexander, we're rooting for his team." Not Kurt Warner's Rams, not McNabb and T.O.'s Eagles, and most certainly not Manning's dismally-bad-in-cold-weather Colts. This example may appear to be coming out of left field, but what I'm getting at is now, 13 years later, I'm even more thankful my dad made me a Pats fan. I'm thankful that I've always been reasonably healthy. I'm glad my mom forced me to practice piano when I was younger because I love it even more now. I'm thankful for my mom and sister even though I probably don't tell them enough. The value of Thanksgiving is that it serves as a national reminder to not forget why we are who we are and to be grateful for and acknowledge those that have been a part of our journeys.
As Ferris Bueller famously said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!" This quote is extremely relevant for many of us who don't take into account how important the little things in life are. Being thankful is one of them. In fact, it's huge. None of us would be the people we are without having a zillion moments like the one I had with my pops while watching a football game. What I hope is that, in time, we as a culture learn to be more conscious of the people, places, and things that shape us. Although the Holiday we've designated to remind us to be thankful only happens once a year, in a pretty congested spot on the calendar, it does exist for a reason. And so, as this Holiday season starts to vamp up, try and focus on being thankful. Not just for the big gifts or awards, but for all the things you rarely think about thinking of.
You'll notice I refer to Thanksgiving as a "hidden gem." Being thankful is a gem. It shouldn't be hidden; it should be flaunted.
Alexander T. Sadie