As the weather takes a turn toward freezing temperatures, professors collaborate to assign every major project at the end of the semester and fall break is but a distant memory, Thanksgiving approaches. Between the drunken shenanigans of Halloween and the whirlwind of family and friends of Christmas and New Year's Eve lies Thanksgiving, a vastly underappreciated holiday that unjustly has to fight off Christmas commercials from the moment Halloween ends. Pretty soon we will start seeing Christmas ads in early October, because it is never too early to start thinking that little Jimmy must have a new toy, and I'm pretty sure you cannot buy the giant bows from the Lexus commercials from Walgreens without at least two months' notice.
Even Black Friday seems intent on stealing Thanksgiving's thunder, with many stores now advertising door-buster sales on Thanksgiving morning. (Seriously K-Mart, stop — no one goes to your stores anymore except for the occasional hipster ironically buying a Jaclyn Smith pantsuit for his mother). I went Black Friday door-buster shopping last year and I'm pretty sure a preteen girl almost shanked me for having the audacity to tell her not to cut in line.
Thanksgiving is perhaps the most American holiday we celebrate, even more so than the Fourth of July. What? Blasphemy! I know, but hold on. True, the Fourth of July does celebrate our independence, and we all light fireworks, grill obscene amounts of food and drink lots of beer while pretending to like country music. However, Thanksgiving celebrations bring together many elements quintessentially American. Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrating, in part at least, the first Thanksgiving shared between the Pilgrims and local Native American tribes. It is true that the early interactions between local Native American populations has largely been overlooked, I think because of some awful things that transpired (I could be wrong though, I don't remember reading about it in school), but at least it is a cozy sentiment nonetheless.
However, the truly American quality of Thanksgiving lies in our modern celebration of the holiday. Families stuff themselves to the point of sickness with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce (how cranberry sauce companies make a profit for the other eleven months of the year is beyond me), then barely reach the couch before the tryptophan coma arrives. Then the family gathers around the T.V. to watch 300-pound men throw a ball and beat the ever-loving crap out of each other — great television.
In all seriousness though, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it reminds us all of our blessings and good fortune, without the added burden of feigning excitement that Aunt Sally bought you wool socks for Christmas for the fourth year in a row. It reminds us to be thankful for the family we still have (even if they live on the other side of Atlanta and will probably ask you why you are not engaged yet like everyone else). It reminds us to be thankful to live in a society so wealthy that it is not only socially acceptable, but socially expected that we eat a criminally insane amount of food. Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful that there is mercifully only one game left in the football season, and we will be spared the sight of watching Tennessee's defense be shredded by every team we play.
Perhaps most importantly, however, Thanksgiving reminds us that the semester is almost over, and the only things that separates us from the sweet freedom of winter break are final papers, exams, and a few sleepless, steamy date nights with John C. Hodges.
Happy Thanksgiving, UT!
— Ron Walters is a senior in English literature, French, and global studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.