OPINION: Be thankful, but also give over the holidays

Caitlyn Dieckmann 

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     Thanksgiving: The holiday that’s all about turkey and cranberry sauce that no one ever really eats. Some of the common traditions include feasts, football and family arguments over the dumbest things.  

     It’s kind of like a warmup before the rest of the holiday season. You invite your family over, cook some food and pray no one says the ‘P’ word … Oh yes, politics. Then you do the same thing over again in a few weeks if you celebrate a winter holiday.  

     I always see the actual day of Thanksgiving as a fun time. I never get to see certain family members, but every so often, my dining table gets a few extra seats for surprise visitors.  

     Given all of this festivity, it is sometimes hard to remember what this holiday means. Is the true purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving all about watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and football while you try to ignore the family arguments and wait for the food comas to begin?  

     Or perhaps, is there something we are forgetting? Maybe it has something to do with that word in the title … “Thanks.” Or it could be the other word … “Giving.”  

     The thing with the holiday is that people often focus mostly on the “thanks,” and they go around the dinner table one by one, asking each other what they are thankful for.  

     I, however, am not one who likes to answer this question. What am I supposed to say? Family. Friends. The food that is on my plate. The roof that is over my head. There is just so much I am thankful for, and you want me to spill my guts, awkwardly while passing around a gravy boat.  

     No thank you, pun intended.  

     Thankfulness is kind of implied in the holiday’s title. So, there isn’t a reason to verbally say it out loud and specify where you would like your “thanks” to go to. It is far easier to list the things you aren’t thankful for, but that would be for a different holiday.  

     What’s really important for this is that students who celebrate the holiday find a way to also “give” while they are thankful. And this can be done in many ways.  

     One year, my father and I met up with a few friends of his whom he was in a group with the day before Thanksgiving — Thanksgiving Eve if you will. We met up at a soup kitchen and handed out socks, gloves and hats to anyone who needed them before a snowstorm hit Colorado Springs that weekend.  

     We didn’t need to have the awkward “I am thankful for” speech while stuffing your face with mashed potatoes. Instead, we were just glad that were had the time and resources that others don’t have, so that we could give it to people who struggle to even have simple items like socks. 

     We went home that evening happier than we ever were sitting at home watching the Macy’s parade! 

     Another year, I went with some friends to go clean up trash at public rivers and lakes, and the years before that, I would take part in a canned food drive.  

     So “giving” takes many forms, and you can find the kind of giving that is best for you.  

     Small moments like that are all that you need to fulfill the full meaning of Thanksgiving. Be thankful all you want, but it really means nothing without you giving love, happiness, resources — really anything — to someone who needs it.  

     So take a moment this holiday to be thankful, but also to give.  

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash.