Well, it’s that time of year again. That time of year where students file home from all over the country for a few spare days of Doctor Who and Dexter and ignoring that term project that was assigned a few weeks ago and still leaves a sore spot in their mouths. That time of year where families get together and pretend that they are happy to be there. That time of year where, even after an entire day of gorging oneself with home-cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, pies—you name it—one still looks more forward to Chinese takeout and black Friday. Even just typing this, I almost feel disgusted with myself. I think of how many people that will spend this Thanksgiving lucky to have bread on their plates at all and I wonder how I live most of my days so unaware of the poverty around me.
Don’t get me wrong—this isn’t a post about how selfish and greedy Americans are; stuffing themselves while poor children sleep on the street with their stomachs growling. This is a post about attitudes. You see, the trouble with traditions—as I would assume holiday celebrations for most people are—is that practicing them is almost like forming a habit. And when a habit is formed, a person stops thinking about it. They stop realizing they are doing said habit—it becomes a part of their natural actions; it becomes something their body does without asking the brain’s permission. And when a person stops thinking about traditions, holidays become nothing more than going through the motions.
This is the trouble with Thanksgiving (and even Christmas!) that I see all around me—we simply go through the motions. Thanksgiving has become a national “Eat Turkey” day and nothing more. This is why attitudes are so vastly important when celebrating holidays. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving is to be thankful and grateful for every gift we have—big and small.
So I’m asking you to take a moment and really think deeply about all the wonderful privileges and gifts that have been given to you. Take note of the small stuff too—like having the ability to put too much mashed potatoes on your plate—and don’t feel guilty that not everyone has the financial means or resources to do that as well, but just be aware of it. This is a formula to follow for humility, which is a virtue I believe everyone could use a little extra dose of.
Okay, with my preach-y introduction over, I suppose that only leaves me to tell you what I’m thankful for. To that, I must start off with the fact that on this lovely Thanksgiving morning, I am currently sitting in a hotel room two blocks from the ocean. My brother is a little over a month away from marrying the love of his life, and my parents and I are about to share a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with my soon-to-be sister’s family halfway across the continent from our home.
So, I guess I have a lot to be grateful for. I am grateful for love and family that brings me miles from home, I am grateful for friends who care enough to support me and keep me company, I am grateful for delicious food and the fact that I am American and have all these privileges. I am grateful for football, and European football (soccer), and gymnastics, and most of all, Kansas Basketball. And beyond all that, I am grateful for the life I have been given, and all of the wonderful aspects of this life that help outweigh the bad.
I suppose there are a lot of problems in this world that we should all be concerned with, but perhaps for this one day, we should all shed our chips on our shoulders and our worrisome warts and attempt to be optimistic.