Thanks, but no thanks
As hours tick by until some of us are again with our families and gorging ourselves on a high-starch meal, many of us will be relieved to have a break from the academic grind that has occupied the past three months of our lives. Others of us will look forward to seeing our favorite college rivalry play itself out the day after Thanksgiving. And even fewer of us may actually celebrate the tradition upon which our fall holiday was founded - being thankful.
Originally celebrated after a brutal inaugural winter in the wilderness, Thanksgiving was a day that early colonists realized they had a reason to celebrate what they had, namely, their lives. That was reason enough for the colonists to be thankful. They were grateful they had a life to celebrate with. Today, we are more focused on what we do not have.
Perhaps we would be better off if the holiday were eliminated. That is, by reserving one day to be grateful for what we have, we can justify taking all else we have for granted the remainder of the year.
As college students, we're most likely young. Our youth has given us permission to be cynical, and our desire to get a college education probably means we question more than we accept. Right now, you're most likely questioning what it is that you have to be thankful for.
I don't know.
I don't know you.
I don't know what tragedies have befallen your life this semester. And I certainly don't know what it is that you have to be thankful for. However, I do know what we have to be thankful for.
We can be thankful for having a government that believes in the freedoms of the individual over the assumptions of the state. Just imagine a world where there were no Miranda rights or no concept of probable cause. Imagine a world where you could simply be walking down the street, be stopped, arrested and have a blood sample withdrawn by a syringe with questionable sterility simply for having the facial expression of someone under the influence - a crime most college students are guilty of every time they wake up. If you're having trouble imagining such a place, perhaps a trip to Russia will wake you up to the reality that this is what others take into consideration when they sift through what they have to give thanks for.
Perhaps we can be thankful for living in a community that spends hours and dollars debating the source of our water for the next five years, in the form of Proposition 200. Consider living in a country where there is no system of flowing water up for debate.
Consider a country where the system of water purification is so decrepit that brown water comes out of your faucet. A trip to India will sober you up to the fact that some will spend their dinners on Nov. 25, drinking a glass of water more brown than clear.
Finally, we could all benefit from realizing that the reasons for being thankful can also be found within our own borders. A quick trip to a homeless shelter will allow us to realize that there are people who don't complain about having to do dishes after Thanksgiving, because they'd be thankful to have dishes to wash.
Simply the fact that our fall holiday has had its namesake replaced with the words, "Turkey Day" is indicative that we have lost sight of the principle behind the original foundation for the holiday. It's not a day for turkey. It's a day to step back and appreciate the fact that you can have turkey or that you're simply alive to enjoy the turkey.
Thanksgiving has gotten lost somewhere between the Macy's Day Parade and Stove Top stuffing. It has become more of a day off and less of a day to give thanks. Our abundance of wealth has caused us to become focused on gaining more than appreciating what we've already been given. Perhaps this holiday we can each step back from our holiday and appreciate what it is we have in our lives.
Have a thankful Thanksgiving. Know that I'll spend my day being thankful for those of you who read this column.