A Time for giving thanks

Meredith Shea

Thanksgiving is the best holiday in the U.S. Not to say that our other major holidays aren’t fun, but Thanksgiving tops the chart.

Think about it.

What other holiday has remained as true to its origin as Thanksgiving?

We all know the story of the pilgrims settling down in the new world in 1621, and celebrating an autumn harvest with the Wampanoag tribe.

Although Thanksgiving was not a formal holiday until 1863, the pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving meal on American soil.

The first Thanksgiving was an act of thanks to God and the Wampanoags, who helped settlers learn the way of the land and how to become self-sustaining.

When Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving as a national holiday during the Civil War in 1863, it was to encourage Americans to give thanks to God for what they had and ask him to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

Now celebrated by Americans of many different religions, Thanksgiving remains popular.

Nearly 150 years later, families and friends still come together the fourth Thursday in November to offer thanks for all they have.

I have learned in my lifetime that the best way to get family to come together is with food.

The delicious turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie that accompany Thanksgiving are unbeatable.

When I was 7 years old, I learned it doesn’t take a fabulous meal to make Thanksgiving the best holiday.

That year, my dad had to work on Thanksgiving and my mom didn’t have much money to spend on a dinner.

My two brothers and I were asked to choose between buying a turkey and going to the movies.  Being kids, we chose the movie.

I can’t even remember the movie we saw, but I certainly remember the meal: hot dogs with macaroni and cheese.

We couldn’t afford any more, having depleted our Thanksgiving allowance at the movies, but I still remember playing with my brothers all day and actually getting along.

But Thanksgiving isn’t about gourmet food or movies.  It’s about coming together for one day to say, “Thank you” to God, or mom or dad, or even to your big brother who always picked on you growing up.

It’s about coming together and being thankful for life, being thankful for $5 in your pocket, even if it’s the last $5 to your name.

As students, faculty and staff of UMKC, we get an entire week off to travel, be with family and friends and be thankful, thankful for our time off, even if we have papers to grade, papers to write or a GRE to study for.

It is the one holiday where, until recently, the entire country closes for a day, and nothing is expected of you except to say, “Thanks.”

This Thanksgiving, I urge you to think about what you have to be thankful for.  For one day, forget about differences, forget about politics, and forget about school.  Look your mother in the eye and tell her she is beautiful.  Tell your annoying little sister you love her.  And tell everyone you are with at Thanksgiving dinner, whether it be a $50 turkey leg or a $.99 hot dog on your plate, that you are thankful for being together.

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