Where did the ‘Thanks’ in Thanksgiving go?

What high school challenges and American traditions take away from this meaningful holiday

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Carina Muniz

With the stresses of high school heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic and events occurring within the nation, it feels as if you are living in a whirlwind of events. Thanksgiving is a holiday where we set that whirlwind aside to think about the important people and things in our lives.

Thanksgiving goes beyond eating dinner as a family and giving thanks to those you love, but reflecting on yourself as a person as well.”

— Carina Muniz

On a holiday revolving around giving thanks, I have done very little of it. 

Part of me wants to blame the COVID-19 pandemic for ruining this intimate and cherished holiday, but I could just as easily blame the lack of enthusiasm on my part.

As a little girl, Thanksgiving was always the time of the year where my family and I could gather and appreciate the time that we had together. Though this year, things appeared to turn out differently. Instead of attending an extended family member’s house to eat the oh-so famous Thanksgiving dinner, my family of four sat at our dinner table to eat lasagna.

To me, it felt like the true meaning of Thanksgiving had been lost in the madness of recent events occurring in the country, something that Columnist Charles T. Clark discusses in his column: “After a difficult weekend, try and find some grace for each other this holiday season.” But beyond that, the stress of high school and its demands have taken a toll on my ability to reflect on the things most important in my life. ‘What am I thankful for?’ is the question that I had ignored for so long, which I believe many other Bonita Vista High students can attest to.

Aside from the recent lack of Thanksgiving spirit, however, is a deeper issue that distracts from the history of Thanksgiving. Black Friday, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the typical American Football game, to name a few, have all become traditions ingrained into American culture. As a student in the History of the Americas course, I’ve learned that the history taught to me in second grade contradicts the reality of the events that transpired in the 17th century.

Now, I’m not arguing that society should cease to engage in these American traditions, but rather be conscious about the history of Thanksgiving and give thanks to those who we hold dearly. I, myself, need to be more mindful of the things that I consider important and are grateful for.

Through writing this piece, I am opening the conversation with myself about the people in my life I am truly thankful for. Looking at it now, I am thankful mainly for the people who’ve grown up with me, or recently appeared in my life:

  1. Thank you to my family, more specifically my mother, sister, grandfathers and grandmothers, for supporting me and giving me the resources to grow into the person I am today.
  2. Thank you to my friends, who have only given me the best of friendships and a place to be myself.
  3. Thank you to my teachers for pushing me to be the best student I can be, and teaching me to advocate for myself.

Taking this newfound reflection into consideration, I know that by next Thanksgiving I will have more of an appreciation for the holiday. Thanksgiving goes beyond eating dinner as a family and giving thanks to those you love, but reflecting on yourself as a person as well.