Holidays bring with them different traditions and special memories. They are fun ways to punctuate different points of the year. They help us celebrate different things, or just serve as a way to bring friends and family together.
Some holidays are easier to grasp than others. For example, the concept of Halloween is simple and straightforward. It is something we are introduced to at a young age and we can easily get on board with it. We dress up in costumes, spend time with friends, get candy, carve a pumpkin, etc. It's a holiday all about fun.
Valentine's day is another one that we are introduced to at a fairly young age, in elementary school as most of us can remember the elementary school years of making small valentine's for our classmates. Although Valentine's day can often be passed off as a Hallmark holiday, created by and for the sake of greeting cards, it is a holiday whose meaning can evolve as we grow up and figure out what our definition of the day is and how we want to celebrate the day, if at all.
That is the beauty of holidays, is that their meaning and our participation in them grows up with us.
I think Thanksgiving is the perfect example of one such holiday.
For me, I remember when I was little, the only significant thing about Thanksgiving was watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and then the dog show that followed. I knew there was food involved and it meant going over to my grandpa's house, but that wasn't super meaningful to me at a young age.
Now that I am older though, Thanksgiving means a lot more.
This holiday has developed more meaning for me because my family has shifted the way we celebrate it. Our celebration used to be a hoard of my extended family dividing ourselves into the kids and adult table at my grandpa's house eating lukewarm food that was mediocre at best.
Now, it's a much more intimate gathering of my parents and I, my grandma and my grandpa. We eat around our dining table at our house with food that my parents and I have worked throughout the day making. It is a much calmer setting with much better food and a more pleasant company.
This shift in the way our family celebrates the holiday now makes it one that brings with it much more anticipation.
Now that I am in college it also is more meaningful to me because I get to come home. As someone who goes to school across the country from her home, I am very grateful that I can come back home and celebrate it with my family.
It is nice to escape campus, even if it is only for a short bit, and come back to the comfort of home. Even now I am counting down the days before I get to board my flight home, excited to be back with my parents, my dog, and to visit with friends and family. So the addition of going home adds a layer of gratitude and anticipation.
I also think Thanksgiving just comes at a really opportune time. It marks the transition into a sort of winter hibernation. If I were to describe Thanksgiving in one word, it would be cozy. The weather outside is becoming colder. The food is comforting. The people surround you are celebrating the holiday by giving you warmth. It is also festive too because it is a sort of humble way to start the holiday season.
Thanksgiving can be and should be used as a way to be put in the right mood for the rest of the holidays. A time to ground ourselves in gratitude for what we have in our lives. As we head into December and the holidays that fall in that month, the theme of gratitude and appreciation should continue.
Thanksgiving may seem a bit underrated, but I don't think it should be. We get to enjoy good food, good company, be grateful for what we have in our lives, and look forward to what is coming up.