Alyssa Rosenthal ’13
Everyone knows the phrase “you never know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” I’m sure most people have applied this to friendships, relationships, and even experiences they wished would never end. Last year while I was in Barcelona I discovered something that definitely applies to this idea that I had never thought of before because it had never “been gone,” and that is Thanksgiving. Most people don’t consider Thanksgiving to be an incredibly important holiday since it has no religious connotation, is not celebrated anywhere else in the world, and may feel closer to home for us New Englanders than for Americans in other parts of the country. Even so, Thanksgiving is a holiday that I never truly appreciated until I was 5,000 miles away and eating chicken because the Catalans don’t really do the whole turkey thing.
When most people think about Thanksgiving they think about the opportunity to spend time with and be thankful for family and friends. When I was little we would go around the dinner table and each say something we were thankful for, and most of the time it involved those sitting across from or beside us. My favorite was when my little brother would say he was thankful for the fact that he got to sit next to my dad. But he, and everyone else in my family, has grown up over the past years and the things we are thankful for have changed. However, I find that even though we are thankful for different things, they still all involve our families and friends and they are still what make Thanksgiving one of the most special days of the year.
When we are younger we see Thanksgiving as a day to be with our families and friends, eat lots of good food, and think about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Today, as college students, I think we are still thinking about these same things, but from a different perspective. We appreciate the fact that we get to spend time with our families because it might be for the first time in nearly three months that we are venturing back to our hometowns, whereas in elementary or high school it was just another day off from school. We get to see friends that we likely have not seen for that same amount of time; this was especially exciting freshman year of college, as I know I was eager to see who had changed from their first interactions with college life, who had fared well, and who had struggled. Any college student can tell you why the eating lots of good food is important; especially when you get to do it while drinking and yelling at the football game on TV with your cousins. The Pilgrims and the Native Americans might be a little less obvious; yes we dressed up in feathers and tall hats and pretended to stand on Plymouth Rock when we were children, but we don’t (or at least I don’t) do that anymore. Regardless, our country has come a very long way since the seventeenth century, and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to stop and think about that. It also gives us a chance to think about the ways our own lives and relationships have changed, and how they will continue to do so in the years to come, some in more drastic ways than others. I don’t know where I will be going home from when I go home for Thanksgiving next year, but for now, as I head home for Thanksgiving, all I’m going to think about, just as I have every year before, are the family and friends I get to share it with.