Thanksgiving is like the unwanted stepchild of the major holidays in America.
He’s the middle child stuck between Halloween and Christmas. You can judge the importance of a holiday in this country by the number of weeks their corresponding decorations are on the shelf at your local department store.
Empirical evidence has Thanksgiving coming in last just behind Easter.
Maybe that’s why I love Thanksgiving; he’s the underdog. As I reminisced of past Turkey Day feasts in the O’Neill household, I discovered that there is more to this holiday than meets the eye.
The Wonders of Thanksgiving
By late November in Colorado the air is crisp and most of the leaves have fallen to the ground. Every time I step outside I hear that familiar crunching noise that lets me know autumn has arrived. It reminds me of being a kid; carelessly diving head first into gigantic piles of leaves with the sound of uninhibited laughter being muffled by the enveloping mass of burnt orange foliage. It was nearly impossible to wipe the grin off my face. The subsequent reprimand from my mom for dragging leaves into the house was a small price to pay for these unforgettable memories.
I remember playing football with my friends at the park. Running around like a bunch of idiots is the best way to burn a few calories before eating your body weight in Turkey and stuffing.
Ah yes, the food; one of my favorite aspects of Thanksgiving. Turkey, gravy, stuffing, applesauce, green bean casserole, freshly baked rolls, and we can’t forget the pumpkin pie. It’s the one day of the year where it’s not frowned upon to feast until the button on our jeans explodes, firing across the room nearly hitting Grandma in the eye. (I think sweatpants were the brainchild of a Thanksgiving enthusiast).
I don’t know why Thanksgiving is overshadowed by Christmas. I mean, I get it – marketability. There’s more money in Christmas. The moment the calendar is flipped to November the stores stock their shelves with Christmas decorations, radio stations blast Yuletide carols, and commercials for Black Friday emphasize the unbeatable deals you can get if you’re willing to punch small children in the face at 2 AM because they grabbed the last Xbox 360 you wanted to buy for your boyfriend (FYI – your boyfriend has become a lazy piece of shit so stop buying him video games).
Have we really lost all sight of what it truly means to celebrate the holidays in this country?
A Brief History of Giving Thanks
Part of me knows (or at least hopes) that there are individuals and families out there that understand the true meaning behind Thanksgiving. The origins and validity of the first Thanksgiving are debatable, but the spirit behind the story is what I hold on to.
The first “Thanksgiving” in 1621 was a 3 day event between 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans in celebration of the colonist’s first harvest. It was a time to rejoice and reap the benefits of their labor; a feast with friends and family while giving thanks to all those who helped strengthen the community in preparation for the harsh winter months.
Despite the eventual massacring and pillaging of the Native Americans and their homeland, I’d like to think, that for a short moment during the infancy of their relationship, it was a peaceful occasion between two drastically different people and cultures who took time to find common ground as human beings and celebrate their diversity.
There is A Lot to Be Thankful For
I’d love to list them all, but I want to take just a few moments to share with you the people, places, things, and experiences that stand out in my mind.
I’m thankful for my family. I’m lucky to have an older brother who blazed trails for me while breaking in my mom and dad so my punishments were less severe than I deserved. I’m fortunate to have parents who have given their unwavering support to a son who marches to the beat of his drummer. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
I’m thankful for my unbelievably incredible friends; all of which are an extension of my family. I wouldn’t trade our memories for anything in the world, and I honestly mean that.
I’m thankful for my health. The absence of any major ailments puts me in the top 5% of the world.
I’m thankful for my clothes. I love the same minimalist wardrobe I’ve had for the last 5 years. They keep me warm and effectively convey my love for the Ghostbusters & Captain America.
I’m thankful for having my own place to eat, sleep, and protect me from the drug dealers that work on the neighboring street. It’s not big or fancy, but it’s exactly what I need.
I’m thankful for my bike; my favorite mode of transportation. It also gives me an excuse to wear a rubber band around my right pant leg (so it doesn’t get caught in the chain).
I’m thankful for my car. Having to pop the clutch every time I want to drive is a great workout. It still gets me from point A to point B.
I’m thankful for improv and standup comedy. They are fantastic creative outlets that have provided me with some direction in life. Not to mention the wonderful people I’ve met along the way.
And of course, I’m grateful for you. Whether you fall into one of the aforementioned categories, or are simply a friend I’ve yet to meet, thank you so much for reading my writing. I only hope that you find entertainment, joy, and ultimately value in my words.
I wish you nothing but the most delicious turkey, delectable pumpkin pie, and a day filled with unforgettable memories this Thanksgiving.
It’s the time of year to share, so don’t be shy, someone is waiting to hear about it in the comments below…
What are you thankful for?
Enjoy The Journey