A few thoughts on Thanksgiving

To many, Thanksgiving is merely a food-filled, family-assembling occasion to mark the start of “eating season” (“Eating season” being the month-and-a-half series of holiday parties leading up to Christmas and New Years, which always seem to yield a bounty of food). And while the Thanksgiving holiday is undoubtedly a grand annual opportunity to feast on stuffing and turkey, or outpace the rest of your family in the number of slices of pie consumed in one sitting, this holiday is much more than that. Thanksgiving is a time to look around in the midst of a hectic lifestyle and appreciate the good things in our lives.

What is the purpose of Thanksgiving, anyway, if not to stuff ourselves silly with grandma’s infamous pumpkin pie? The Merriam-Webster dictionary actually has a three-part definition of Thanksgiving: (1) A public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness; (2) The act of giving thanks; (3) A prayer expressing gratitude. It seems that the overarching theme of these definitions is being grateful for the good things that you have been given by God. Even the unhappiest of people can find reason to be grateful on this holiday; the opportunity to live on this Earth as a human being is in and of itself a valuable gift. But we can be grateful for so much more. God has given us eyes to see, ears to hear, a tongue to taste (especially our upcoming Thanksgiving meals…but I digress), a nose to smell, or some unique combination of these senses. Most importantly, we have been given a wonderful brain to take in information, synthesize new knowledge, and create novel ideas. The complexities of the brain are enormous and difficult to study, which is why we should all be grateful that our incredible brains somehow evolved to be this amazing.

That’s only the beginning of things we have to be grateful for – there are plenty more gifts and circumstances in our individual lives that we can be grateful for, and one of them is attending college right now. The ability to afford and study at a higher-level academic institution is no small gift to give thanks for. Our professors’ knowledge, the classes they teach, and the interdisciplinary curriculum that has been structured for our education are also all gifts. Our professors worked hard to earn their PhD’s so they could learn the most they could before teaching their own courses; the planning that goes into the classes we take uses up a lot of our professors’ time; and the curricula at Loras were certainly not structured overnight. When you think about it, there’s a lot to be grateful for, even just within our current educational institution.

Speaking of education, with no classes for a solid five days, Thanksgiving break is a wonderful relief from the daily grind of homework, extracurricular commitments, and staying up late and waking up early. As mentioned before, this is a blessing in and of itself, so be grateful for the reprieve. It’s an opportunity to catch up on sleep, get a home-cooked meal, see your favorite pet, and enjoy spending some quality time with your loved ones. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, so think long and hard about the blessings in your life well before you reach for that first plate of corn and mashed potatoes. Chances are, those blessings will be too innumerable to count.

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