By Ali Schultz
The first ever Thanksgiving happened during a crisp November in 1621. The Pilgrims and Native American’s just made it through a brutal unforgiving winter after arriving at Plymouth. William Bradford, the Governor of the pilgrim colony, held the Thanksgiving feast in celebration of a successful first harvest, despite the previous bitter winter that claimed lives of half of the pilgrims who made their voyage to America. The holiday wasn’t actually declared a national holiday until many years later. Despite all of the hardships the pilgrims faced, they set aside a three day celebration to be thankful for something positive instead of dwelling on their losses.
Thanksgiving would go on to be the first designated holiday set aside to acknowledge how grateful we should be for what we have, while surrounding ourselves with the people that matter most in life. As we know, the Pilgrims were faulty to say the least, however, they had one thing right. Instead of mourning over all that was lost the first year at Plymouth, the pilgrims chose to rejoice over something positive. And maybe that is something we should in fact, take away from the pilgrims.
Flash forward a few centuries and Thanksgiving is still going strong as one of America’s most beloved celebrations. Although I have never really been much of a fan of feasting on turkey and forcing myself to stay awake post face-stuffing (thanks a lot Tryptophan), this year I realize more than ever, the importance of Thanksgiving. Above all, Thanksgiving should serve as a reminder that giving thanks and appreciating the world wind that is life should extend past the 26th this year.
Many people use Thanksgiving as exactly what it is meant to be used for. They use it as a day to tell people around them that they are loved and appreciated, while setting aside quality time to count their blessings.
But what families should take away from the celebrated feast this year, is not how great the turkey basted to perfection was, the nearly untouched cranberry sauce only your grandparents will dig into, nor that we should utilize one, single day to appreciate the food on our table and the great company we are in . But instead, we should all take a second of reflection to realize the sentimental thanks and gratitude for life’s many graces should continue year round.
Maybe we should live life like it’s Thanksgiving everyday. Life has a way of consuming you at times. It is busy. It can be complicated and sometimes really messy. As a college student, I find it difficult to make time to make breakfast or somedays brush my hair, let alone remind those around me how much I appreciate them along with giving myself time to be thankful for all that I have.
It is easy to become ever so consumed with life when homework swallows us whole and we are scrounging pennies to pay our wifi bill. The “today sucks” demeanor subconsciously blurs into a tone set for the entire week or month even.
I am guilty in the first degree of this lifestyle. I choose to dwell on petty things when I am privileged and blessed beyond belief. When the Pilgrims lost half their population and were plagued by famine and disease at points, they still found the will to celebrate something. And maybe that should be an underlying theme in our daily lives. Sure, most of us probably are never going to see plaguing diseases in the near future. But if the Pilgrims can find light despite their frequent misfortunes, it seems pretty safe to say that we can all live a little more graciously everyday, despite the 7 hours of O Chem homework we may have.
This may seem like such an oversimplified, cliche idea. Love the ones around you and be thankful for what you have. But life has a way of proving that it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It is up to us to live a life a little more like it’s Thanksgiving everyday.
All I am saying is it is easy to get caught up in everyday affairs that we cling to designated holidays such as Thanksgiving to take a breath and realize what is truly important in life. We can skip the feasts and come to terms with the fact that football may not be on year round.
Drink up, eat a lot and don’t hesitate to tell everyone around you how thankful you are for them. But, come the dawn of the 27th, don’t cease to remember that it is no less significant to give thanks to those around you, while shedding light on things you are grateful for 365 days a year.
Ali Schultz studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @AliSchultzzz.