I'll just come out and say it: I don't celebrate Christmas.
Yes, I still listen to Michael Buble's Christmas album(his voice is truly magical), and I still revel in the holiday lights and decorations that create such a lively, festive atmosphere. But my family doesn't partake in the essential parts of Christmas, like exchanging presents, and thinking about its religious significance. Even though America has made Christmas a truly commercial and accessible holiday, to the point where everyone celebrates it in some fashion, I've never felt all that connected to its traditions. Now rewind to November 24 of this year, another major American holiday that is not as sensationalized and is sometimes forgotten among the anticipation of the "true" holidays in December, and my personal favorite: Thanksgiving.
The phrase "less is more" is, all at once, an apt and ironic commentary on the spirit of Thanksgiving. It is such an elegant holiday, because it connects people through the ubiquitous language of food (and football). The simplicity and intimacy of Thanksgiving lends itself to little more than joyful conversation and the sounds of turkey being devoured, but it's enough. On the other hand, the word "less" is strictly forbidden on the day of Thanksgiving. There is always an abundance of food, people, and memories to make and share.
I celebrated Thanksgiving this year in all of its glory, achieving nothing more than staring at the TV screen and watching three back-to-back football games, feasting on cornish hen(turkeys are just too big), mac and cheese and everything in between, and playing charades with my cousin and his friends. In those moments, nothing else mattered. It was my right to be a couch potato, and I wouldn't have observed the holiday any other way. But perhaps the most satisfying part of the break was watching all three Lord of the Rings(extended version) movies on consecutive nights. In retrospect, that may have not been the best use of my time, but I don't regret it at all because it felt liberating to watch without fretting about waking up for class the next day, or submitting an assignment by 11:59 PM. I was relaxed and at peace, feelings that are barred from entry on campus, as stress and anxiety consume everyone.
As a college student, Thanksgiving holds a special place in my heart. It conveniently allows me to take a break from the rigor of college life before exams, so that I come back refreshed and energized(though 4 days is simply not enough to accomplish that). More importantly, though, it allows me to appreciate the underlying message of Thanksgiving, which is to be thankful for the little things in life. Even though I went to my cousin's place, instead of home, I was able to shower without putting slippers on and carrying an overloaded caddy into the bathroom. I was able to enjoy some delicious, home-cooked meals, just when I thought dining hall food was the best I was going to get for a while. And I was able to spend quality time with people who mattered the most to me, without worrying about classes(I admit I should have done at least a little work). These simple pleasures seemed insignificant to me in high school. I took my mother's ridiculously good cooking for granted, and I always found my clothes washed and dishes cleaned without having to lift a finger. College has taught me responsibility and independence, and through that, why the small details should be cherished.
Now, as Christmas and winter break quickly approach, I again look forward to seeing friends and family, and finally sleeping in my own bed. In the midst of Christmas cheer, however, I will never forget the spirit of Thanksgiving. It is perhaps the only holiday that, along with giving me the opportunity to eat and sleep without abandon, has made me a more appreciative individual. Needless to say, I can't wait for next year.
Who knows, maybe we'll even have turkey!