Judith George/Staff Writer
Thanksgiving. An American holiday that was built on the idea that the first pilgrims and the Native Americans came together to celebrate friendship and harmony with a hearty feast centuries ago. A story that we were taught as children as a lesson about bonding and coming together as one. It has become a tradition where families — both immediate and extended — would come together around a dinner table filled with delicious food to eat and bond with one another to make up for lost time. A day when people remember what they’re thankful for and appreciate what they have. It’s all about cherishing the moments you had in your life, in hopes that you get to experience more of them.
Sounds heartwarming and wonderful, right? I’m pretty sure a lot of you see Thanksgiving in that light. I wish I could say the same.
What could I possibly mean by that, you might wonder? How do I see Thanksgiving? Well honestly, I just see it as another day.
Now I don’t mean to be all “bah humbug” (yes, I know it’s still technically early for a Christmas reference), but that’s just how I feel about the holiday. It’s rare for me to even experience the holiday in such a way.
Yes, I have participated in activities such as writing three things I’m thankful for, coloring pages related to Thanksgiving and creating cute crafts to use as decoration in school and Sunday school when I was younger.
Yes, I have gone grocery shopping with my mother. I’ve helped her push the cart filled with different food and seasonings around Presidente or Bravo, and picked up the signature Thanksgiving turkey at my church before they ran out.
Yes, I have spent the day in the house, smelling the different fragrances coming from the kitchen as I watched television, eager to sate my grumbling stomach and go into a food coma afterwards.
But it’s not like I’ve experienced the whole “family” get-together others do. Everyone would eat and sit in separate areas or at different times. My dad spends the majority of the day at work, and sometimes my mom would also go to work at around 3:00 PM, only to return between 11:00 PM and 11:30 PM. I would talk to my brother, but eventually we would just go about doing our own thing. Leftovers were put in the refrigerator and I was stuck on dish duty.
That’s been my life for years. I only remember one Thanksgiving where my entire family was under the same roof, but it wasn’t anything special. The only reason I look forward to Thanksgiving is because I get to have a four day weekend and no school. But not much more.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I experienced that Thanksgiving tradition. I was 18 at the time. My brother extended an invite to me to spend Thanksgiving with his then-girlfriend and her family. I didn’t see why not, seeing how it was better than being alone at home. I was happy to go.
While I watched TV alongside my brother, his girlfriend, her sister and her cousins, we all chatted and joked about ourselves, the movie we were watching, the different people in our respective families and so on as we ate hot dogs to hold us over before the main course. Even when everything was done and it was almost time to eat, everyone gathered around in the living room where we sang and had the grandfather pray over us. Afterwards, we ate and enjoyed the lively atmosphere, laughing and joking as we got seconds or even thirds.
It was definitely a nice change of pace to actually experience the family bond on a holiday that’s all about bringing people together. Despite the antisocial vibe I give off, I want to experience moments such as that. Nobody wants to feel alone during the holidays, even if they’ve made peace with the idea.
That’s why I always just saw Thanksgiving as just another day. I never spoke about what I was doing during the day whenever my friends asked because it was never eventful. The majority of my kin live in Haiti, and those who do live in the States have their own Thanksgiving.
But experiencing that Thanksgiving made me hopeful about the future. Now married, my brother and his wife invite family to spend Thanksgiving at their home. I hope to do the same for myself when I’m older so I don’t have to see Thanksgiving as just another day.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Photo by Teo on Flickr.