Opinions: Politically Correct?: Searching for the “thanks” in Thanksgiving

Opinions: Politically Correct?: Searching for the thanks in Thanksgiving

If I went around asking people why we celebrate Thanksgiving, I would get responses like “I think it has to do with the pilgrams and Indians” and “it’s just to give thanks.”

The lines are blurred. Every year when Thanksgiving rolls around, I get an ambiguous sense of anxiety.

My anxiety isn’t from Christmas coming up (in fact, I love Christmas) or because I have to spend time with my extended family (I love them all dearly). It’s because I don’t understand Thanksgiving.

I am the Scrooge of this holiday. I mope days before, exclaiming witticisms to my family and friends about how Thanksgiving is a stupid holiday, and it’s just a way for corporations to make money and for families of 20 people to stuff their faces with fresh turkey.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to dress up in burnt oranges, browns, and deep greens, singing along to our winter playlists in the car on the way grandparents’ house and eating mounds of mashed potatoes . But,the unclear sense of what I’m celebrating really irks me.

Most people would tell me that Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a metaphysical crisis…but to me, it is.

I understand why we celebrate every other holiday. I get celebrating Christmas and Easter. My family places a nativity scene under the Douglas-fir even though we are not religious. My appreciation for the holidays’ roots are solid.

So, this year instead of being a miser, I decided to get to the bottom of this Thanksgiving fuzziness.

The meaning of Thanksgiving as defined by Merriam-Webster is “a day appointed for giving thanks for divine goodness” and that “it’s the fourth Thursday in November observed as a legal holiday in the United States.”

Merriam-Webster’s definition does not help me. If anything, the dictionary definition confused me because Thanksgiving is refered to as “divine.”

I decided to look for refuge in a more colloquial place: Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary defines Thanksgiving as a holiday “to commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It’s a ritual sacrifice. With pie.”

Oh god. A “ritual sacrifice”…that sounds like something I would say jokingly, but Urban Dictionary did not deliver the meaning I was looking for.

Next, I decided to text my mom, dad, sister and boyfriend with the simple question: “How do you define Thanksgiving?”

My boyfriend and my mom’s replies were the most insightful.

My boyfriend replied first: “I feel like Thanksgiving is why TV dinners were made so people can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on their TV sets.”

Okay, so he is saying Thanksgiving seems pointless.

Then my mom responsed: “I would say it is a day set aside for reflection where you get a day off work and school to give you a chance to think and prioritize and appreciate what is most important in your life.”

I understood what my mom meant, but I don’t feel like I ever “reflect” on my life while I’m fighting over the wishbone with my sister Kristin after dinner.

I was still perplexed until Kristin texted me back a couple hours later.

She said, “When I think about Thanksgiving I get excited for the delicious smells coming from Nonny’s [our grandma’s] kitchen, the warmth of being around family and being giggly and silly on the couch with my sister.”

I knew I could expect a cheesy response from Kristin, but it made me think about how much I miss cuddling up on the couch with my big sister laughing about inside jokes from our childhood and groaning about how full we are from all those mashed potatoes.

Thanksgiving offers me a time to see Kristin when I wouldn’t normally because she lives five hours away in Chicago.

After this text, I actually got excited about Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to see my sister Thursday, along with my other cousins I don’t normally see because they live so far away.

I realized that to me, Thanksgiving just means coming together. The historical past or divine affiliation doesn’t matter to me. What matters is this coming Thursday the people I love and don’t normally get to see will surround me.