It is recognized by the familiar mouth-watering aromas—the pumpkin pies, the mashed potatoes and—you guessed it—turkey. Thanksgiving is a time for gatherings and a time to spend with family, with moments where we can stop and say what we are thankful for.
Arriving on the fourth Thursday of every November, Thanksgiving plays a major role in the United States, including the Christian community, but I can’t help but wonder if all of us are actually thankful during the holiday.
Thanksgiving had its origins in the early 1600s at Plymouth in modern-day Massachusetts. Pilgrims settled with native Americans and feasted together for three days. But Thanksgiving didn’t become a national holiday until Abraham Lincoln was in office and officiated it as a day of “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.”
In our modern world, holiday festivities are simply celebrated because of tradition, and many have forgotten the real meaning. When some people hear the word “Thanksgiving,” they think of turkey and Black Friday shopping. Americans should re-adopt the real meaning of Thanksgiving, which is thankfulness.
With sales boosting in the stores, people are focusing on consumerism and forgetting to be thankful. Thanksgiving has become a money-driven holiday, a break from school and work, but often those celebrating leave out the most important aspect—God.
Both my mother and my aunt work for retail department stores during the holidays and have to leave for work mid-dinner because of Black Friday shopping. Holiday sales are robbing families of that quality time. Black Friday isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if consumers were to shift their focus, the holiday would become more about spending time with others and being thankful rather than getting the cheap gifts at your local Best Buy.
Even though Black Friday is generally intended for Christmas gifts, the sales should take place later. If they occurred the following week, it would not take time away from Thanksgiving.
“I take it as a time to spend with family, but some people aren’t even thankful. If the only reason you look forward to Thanksgiving is food and Black Friday, you’ve lost the meaning of it,” said Francisco Lopez, a freshman mechanical engineering major. “God gave me the opportunity to be here at ORU— that’s something to be thankful for.”
For many international students, this is going to be their first Thanksgiving.
“It’s a day where Americans are thankful for something, I don’t know what. I know they celebrate by eating turkey,” remarked Ivan Samuel Esley, a computer engineering major from India.
Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and as Americans, we could shift the narrative of our holiday by making it less of a business opportunity and more of a time for true reflection on what we are thankful for and what God has done in our lives.
Illustration by Staci McCoy