A few weeks ago, my 7 year old was sitting at the kitchen table and working on his homework. He looked up at me, confusion crossing his face as he said, “I’m supposed to write three sentences on why we celebrate Thanksgiving but I don’t know why we do.”
This statement led me to really think about the why surrounding Thanksgiving. Sure, I know the history. A long time ago the Pilgrims ate with the Indians, right? (Actually, to learn more about the history please visit our article on the History of Thanksgiving.) When I gave my son that answer he said, “I know that…but why do we celebrate it now?”
And that was the real question. Why do we celebrate it? We could say that we are celebrating it because it is a tradition, one that we carry on from generation to generation and in a way it would be correct. However, there are many other reasons why we celebrate Thanksgiving and although it may be linked to the Pilgrims, it has become something much more than that.
Although many people gather around the television to watch football on Thanksgiving, it really isn’t about the yardage that is eaten up in a game. We celebrate Thanksgiving to celebrate family. Sure they can annoy us occasionally, okay probably more like usually, but we still love them so for one day in November (or October if you reside in Canada) we put aside those little problems and celebrate being a family.
It may seem like a given, of course we are celebrating family but very few of us think about it as we baste the turkey or watch the game. Family is taken for granted as they watch with us but they are the reason why we continue the tradition of Thanksgiving.
I remember when I was a little girl; every year at school we would list things that we are thankful for. I would list the usual stuff, “I am thankful for my dog, bear,” “I am thankful for my mom and dad,” “I’m thankful for my sister when we aren’t fighting and she’s not being mean…” Okay, the last one I wouldn’t right down since I didn’t really want her to know that I was thankful to have her as my older sister but it was thought year after year.
And that is why we still celebrate Thanksgiving. A long time ago, yes I’m going there again, at the first Thanksgiving, people were thankful for many of the things that surrounded them. They were thankful for the harvest, for their family and for everything else. Today, we are still thankful for those times of plenty, whether they are an amazing job offer, a thousand giggles shared with our children or a quiet evening with our spouse or lover. We are thankful and we are reminded of those things on Thanksgiving. Some of us even celebrate by sharing our thanks around the table before eating our meal.
I would love to say that everyone who sits around the Thanksgiving dinner table is thinking about the first Thanksgiving but to be honest, I have never done it and I have never met any who has. Sure we remember the reason for Thanksgiving but it has become a time to remember. This can be remembering Thanksgiving past, friends that have come and gone or simply fond memories from childhood.
We celebrate Thanksgiving, not only because it is a national holiday where everyone gets the day off, but because we are celebrating everything that goes with being a caring person. We honor the tradition, remember the memories of yesterday and give thanks for all the people that surround us. We celebrate to simply enjoy another day with family, friends, good food and a sense of being complete.