The holiday season is fast-paced and can be filled with stress.
Immediately after hanging up our Halloween costumes, the sound of Christmas music disperses over the airwaves. Lights begin to cover houses as corporations and merchandising companies begin to market the latest products our families will need in order to have an enjoyable holiday season.
Oh, and I almost forgot: Between Halloween and the season of shopping and gift giving, you can find a national holiday for giving thanks.
Each year, it seems Thanksgiving shifts further from a holiday of great importance toward a day stuck between hunting for candy and receiving gifts. Transformation of holidays and their meaning is not surprising. For instance, Thanksgiving has evolved over the centuries.
Our myth-filled story of settlers enjoying dinner with their Wampanoag neighbors seems to be the most common illustration that pops into our minds. However, this was not the original purpose for the creation of Thanksgiving.
In 1863, President Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving in America. Prior to this declaration, Thanksgiving was celebrated only regionally in the Northeastern part of the country and along much of the Atlantic coast. Lincoln’s goal was to help unify a country in the midst of civil war while recognizing a nation blessed by God. Within the proclamation, Lincoln conceptualized the idea that Thanksgiving was a time for our nation to be appreciative and to praise God for bestowing great growth, wealth and power on the U.S. “as no other nation has ever grown.” Our government wanted all Americans to praise God in hopes he would forgive sins that led him to punish our nation with a violent civil war, according to an article in the Journal of Social History.
Today, the ideal Thanksgiving is less about celebrating an ethnocentric view of our nation, and more of a domestic holiday where families come together, so much so that millions will travel to share thanks with those who our closest to their heart, making this week the most traveled week out of the year, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
However, now it seems Thanksgiving is less about giving thanks and more about celebrating consumerism. Black Friday news is filled with images of thousands rushing, shoving and fighting to cash in on a great deal by purchasing the latest unnecessary gadget.
With stories of people being trampled, brawls breaking out and even shootings in toy stores, I wonder what happened to all of the thankfulness. One day we are celebrating all of the wonderful things in our lives, and the next morning we are a nation of “green-eyed monsters.” It is as if the meaning of thankfulness never existed.
As a nation, we have unified to give thanks one day, and the next we act on impulse and greed. Please, enjoy shopping and taking advantage of good deals, but do it with respect and consideration for yourself and others. We do not need to act crazed with no sense of wrong and right.
Charles Sanders, associate professor of history, instilled in me that nothing is inevitable. He preaches we are the writers of our own history and things occur because we make a choice. With this in mind I hope Thanksgiving will not continue to be lost between candy and presents. Rather, I would like to see this holiday transform from a daily celebration to a daily practice.
Problems exist in all our lives, but we also have wonderful things we should always appreciate. I challenge you to give thanks not just once a year but each and every day. If we can keep things in perspective, then we will always be able to find happiness.
From my family to yours, have a wonderful and safe holiday season.
– Bobby Gomez is a senior in elementary education. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.