Having just finished up celebrating Thanksgiving I began to reflect on how and if the meaning of the holiday has changed for me over the years. The main things I always associated with Thanksgiving in the past were always family, food and going around the table and saying what each of us was thankful for that year. In the past I usually just gave the stereotypical answer of, "family." However, this year I found everything meaning a little bit more to me. My only siblings are both graduated from college and have moved away, Thanksgiving was the first time we had all been together in six months. Getting to spend three days laying around and honestly doing a whole lot of nothing with my them was quite frankly the highlight of my Thanksgiving Break and almost made me want to not go back to school. I realized exactly how thankful I am for them when I realized how much more fun being home is when they're there too. It never really feels like I'm actually home unless all of my immediate family members are present. Having such a large age gap with my siblings a lot of times made me feel like I had to grow up just as fast as them when I was younger so I could keep up, but looking back it has just made me all the more appreciative for what I do have when I have it. That being said, here are five simple things to be thankful for this holiday season:
1. Friends that will always have your back.
When you're feeling down whether it be over a bad exam grade, a stressful week or just waking up on the wrong side of the bed, nothing can cheer you up better than your friends. Whether it be your group chat from home or your tight-knit group of friends at school there is always someone that will be there for you and ready to pick you up when you're feeling down. They know when you need an encouraging message and to talk it out or just a big hug and a movie marathon and they're willing to do whatever it takes to make you feel better because they know you'd do the same for them. Never let go of these people, loyal friends are the ultimate support system. Remember to let them know just ho much you appreciate them from time to time.
2. Family that loves you enough to fight with you.
The next time you're fighting with your Aunt/Uncle/Grandpa/obscure Cousin over the election results take a step back to peel away politics or whatever it is you're fighting about and just remind yourself who that person is to you in your life. If you're close enough to see each other on the holidays and fight with one another you're lucky to have them in your life. Plus there's a ninety-nine percent chance that they're only arguing there views with you because they want what they think will be best for you and everyone else, it's just that their opinion of what's best might be different from your. At the end of the day, every family fights and every family has their weird quirks but just remember the next time you're storming away from them at dinner, you're lucky to have them there in the first place. There are people out there that would do anything to have loved ones back this holiday season.
3. Not having to worry where your next meal will come from.
Though as college students we may joke from time to time about how we're always broke and hungry it's important to keep in mind that they are just that: jokes. Many people are lucky enough to never have had to experience a fear that comes from not being able to feed ourselves or our families, it's something we don't think twice about. Unfortunately this isn't the case for everyone and the holidays just make this fear all the more real and stressful to those living in poverty. So, when you're sitting down to whatever holiday meal it may be this year, remember to take an extra moment to appreciate all that you have, even if it's something as simple as food. More people than we think don't have the opportunity do that. Meanwhile food for us is usually just a quick walk to the dining hall or trip to the kitchen away.
4. The roof over your head.
We sleep in warm, dry, clean beds and have a home to go home to over breaks. It's something so simple and so easy to take for granted, yet there are people who have no where to go home to. The next time you're bored sitting around the house or out somewhere thinking about crawling in bed and taking a nap remember that there are people that don't have bed or a home to go home to. Remember to be thankful for what you have, even if it is something as simple as a bed or a place to go home to at night.
5. The education you have been afforded.
No matter where you may be enrolled there is nothing to be more appreciative of than receiving an education. Whether you pay for it yourself, someone else does for you, or you're there on any type of scholarship there is no true value that can be put on it. Not only are you being given the tools that you will need to enter the real world upon graduation, you are developing yourself as a person. Living away from your parents or not, college is a time of discovering what you truly stand for as you take classes in subject areas of your choice and decide what you want to do with your life in the future. Take advantage of all your education has to offer you and absorb as much as you can. Knowledge is the greatest weapon we can have in defending ourselves as persons and holding ourselves and others accountable. Not everyone gets this weapon to the same degree, hold on to it and never take it for granted.