Growing up nearly six hundred miles away from the majority of my family, big holidays became something more close-knit. There weren't giant family dinners to go to, or big holiday parties. You had your immediate household, maybe a few close friends, and your own traditions.
That being said, now that I'm living close to family again for college, one big question has been looming over my head: how am I spending the holidays?
Don't get me wrong, if someone wants to invite me to a Christmas party, I am so down. It's my favorite holiday, and as far as I'm concerned Christmas begins November first.
That being said, I never really felt connected to Thanksgiving. Throughout my life, it was always seen as an extra break off from school. Depending on what time you felt like waking up, you might be able to watch a giant SpongeBob balloon float through the sky while Justin Bieber lip-synched is newest song during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but what more was there?
My family occasionally did a dinner together, but the dinner was never something incredibly formal and giant. It consisted of a few dishes we liked, and us just hanging out. No formalities, no intense preparation, just forming our own traditions and doing what we enjoy. And honestly, I prefer it that way.
The lack of formality made it much more enjoyable, and because of that, I can't see myself having a decent time during a big, formal, get-together.
But what about holiday parties, aren't they formal too? Not exactly.
I can get behind the idea of having a large dinner with people so long as there's something beyond that. Giving people gifts? Getting into the holiday spirit? Just relaxing and having a fun time before Christmas? Sign me the hell up!
At home, my parents, sister, and I would always make Christmas Eve our most formal day of the holiday season. We'd cook a ton of finger-foods, set them out, invite over some friends, watch different holiday movies, and just have a good time. That is the holiday get-together that piques my interest. Seeing everyone having fun and letting go of their worries to get into the holiday spirit is exactly what I want out of these experiences. If you have to stress over preparations, and if the planning of the event isn't fun, then the experience itself won't be enjoyable either.
I suppose that's why I always disliked Thanksgiving.
Everything I knew about a traditional Thanksgiving was through the media and word of mouth. I'd hear tales of stress-filled days beforehand making sure everything was ready, and drama-filled-hours during the dinner itself. It always seemed like so much effort to put into an event people never really seemed to want to be involved in. The way the holiday was always presented in shows and movies always made it seem more like a chore, rather than an exciting day to catch up with your family.
We often forget the actual history behind Thanksgiving as well. While we all know the story of the pilgrims and Native Americans coming together to celebrate the pilgrims' first successful harvest, it's worth mentioning that this wasn't why it became a national holiday.
Thanksgiving was only proclaimed a national holiday during by President Lincoln during the Civil War in order to bring the country together. The heartfelt story we use today is sweet, and provides the spirit of togetherness and helping ones neighbor, but it also dismisses how cruel the settlers treated the Natives over the years.
Now that I'm close to family and I won't be going home for Thanksgiving, I'm beginning to feel worried about choosing a Thanksgiving event to go to. When it comes to most holidays, I prefer to keep things as low-key as possible. Unless it's Christmas, in which case bring on the tinsel and fake snow.
That's beside the point. Overall, anything that seems like it brings more stress than fun is a no-go from me. At the same time, though, I've never experienced Thanksgiving on a large scale. I have no idea how the rest of my family even experiences the holiday, nor do I know anything about the traditions they build to make it their own.
People can like whatever holidays they want. However when it comes to my preferences, in order for me to like the holiday and the events it brings I need multiple things to be involved in it. Most holidays allow me to give someone a gift, which I adore, because it allows me to bring some form of happiness to them. All Thanksgiving seems to do is give me the opportunity to sit at a table, eat a meal, and go home. I can respect how this holiday could be a dream come true for a major foodie, but to the average person? I just can't see much of the appeal.
The modern premise of Thanksgiving and why we celebrate it is nice, but I think that we should show our thanks every day. We shouldn't only make our appreciation known on the fourth Thursday of November, but rather go out of our way to regularly thank the people around us for all they do. It's obvious that we don't keep our thanks secret until one day a year, but regardless, we could definitely express them more often.
All in all, I'd be willing to give Thanksgiving a shot, provided we could keep the formalities to a minimum. Remembering the history that got us to this holiday is important as well. While nowadays the focus of the holiday is showing thanks for those around us, we should still make a point to recall the history that got us here.Holidays should be fun, and allow us to relax while celebrating something we care about. We should be able to have a good time and take these days as way to de-stress, rather than adding unnecessary worry on top of them. So long as I can have a good time and bring some smiles to those around me, I'm cool with giving Thanksgiving a chance.