By Claire Guo, Staff Reporter
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Spoke.
My 15th birthday was last Thanksgiving day. My family ate turkey, strawberry birthday cake, apple pie, and all my favorite foods. I received presents and birthday cards and thank-you cards and pleasant “Happy Thanksgiving Birthday!” texts. In simple terms, I am horribly biased for the day of turkey. But behind my bias is reason, and reason shall take the abandoned stand that Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. (So much so that you’ll forgive my cringe-y puns.)
Though it is traditionally an American holiday, anyone and everyone can celebrate Thanksgiving. Religious holidays like Rosh Hashanah and cultural holidays like Kwanzaa are important, but only for specific communities. Halloween (a sacred day for those who follow Wicca) and Christmas straddle that blurred line between religious and non-religious, meaning many families do not celebrate either. Even though most people have parents around, both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be painful subjects for others.
I won’t even start to discuss Valentine’s Day. I won’t even start to think about those lonely couch sessions watching rom-coms, overindulging on self-bought chocolates, and crying at the sight of Ryan Gosling’s face…
Thanksgiving doesn’t discriminate against bachelors. Everyone has something to be thankful for, regardless of ethnicity, social status, religion, and all human conditions.
Appreciate what you have. The message of Thanksgiving is clear, worthy of attention, and uplifting. For one, many other holidays don’t have clear meanings. What exactly is Halloween trying to convey? No, really. Think about it. St. Patrick’s Day is a religious and cultural holiday, but how many non-Christian non-Irish celebrators know what it means? Think about that, too. Granted, Christmas has an admirable message of giving, but too easily is it turned into a message of taking. Kids everywhere look forward to it year-round as a chance to ask for new and expensive gifts. Thankfully, Thanksgiving’s message is impossible to corrupt.
While many Americans celebrate the election of Donald Trump, there exists a fair share of America voicing despair. For the latter, Thanksgiving can feel like a breath of fresh air. After 18 months of divisive politics, Thanksgiving unites family and friends with the general agreement that life is good. Take a break from arguing about who should or shouldn’t be sitting in the Oval Office. Argue instead about which football game to watch, who gets the last turkey leg, and what you’re most thankful for. Let sweet cranberry sauce cleanse the bitterness from your politicized palate, and eat turkey until you can’t open your eyes.
Thanksgiving break. It’s the first week-long hiatus from scrambling awake at 7:00 to put on pants and go to school because you pressed snooze six times, and brush faster, Claire! You’ve been late twice already, and one more is a detention, and there’s a math test 1st period, and who needs breakfast?
Sleeping late, seeing family, and travelling can all be inconvenient during the typical school schedule. And let’s face it – Thanksgiving break is the perfect time to do everything you said you would do during Thanksgiving break.
The best part? When the last day of break ambushes you and shakes you by the shoulders, babbling, “Finish your homework, you rotten procrastinator,” there’s always the comforting thought that winter break is just around the bend.
5. Food. Glorious Food.
Enjoy this picture of a turkey.
Admittedly, Thanksgiving has one major problem: its origin. In 1621, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians feasted during a three-day-long festival, widely considered the first Thanksgiving. It meant to celebrate the Pilgrims’ first successful harvest in the New World, a feat impossible without the help from natives.
Besides several inaccuracies in the accepted story, Thanksgiving has become controversial for its emphasis of good relations between settlers and Native Americans. The Wampanoag people were decimated by European epidemics and abandoned in alliance ten years later, when incoming Puritans absorbed the original Pilgrims. In 1970, The United American Indians of New England (UAINE) organized an annual protest on the day of Thanksgiving, labeled the National Day of Mourning. It has been held every year since, their central goal to educate the public on the reality of colonist-native relations.
Thanksgiving is intertwined with America’s history. But instead of forsaking it as a misrepresentation of Native American treatment, we should take it as an opportunity to recognize the devastation of diverse cultures and peoples. We should appreciate the Native American tribes that remain today, fighting to preserve their cultures. And we should continue to give thanks for everything wonderful in our lives, because in the end, Thanksgiving is not about celebrating the Pilgrims. That was only the beginning.
Claire Guo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.