Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Gets the Shaft

It is officially my favorite time of year.  It's finally starting to feel like fall here in Arkansas, the leaves are changing, and there are Christmas decorations/music/gifts everywhere.  I'm in holiday heaven.  However, I do believe that Thanksgiving gets the shaft for the bigger, more commercialized version of Christmas that we all fall prey to.  I'm not going to lie, my house is already decorated for Christmas, I've already purchased Christmas gifts, and I love it.  But this blog entry is about Thanksgiving, in all its forms.

I'd like to begin at the beginning of this sidelined holiday.  These past few days, I've been teaching my 6th grade students to evaluate and analyze texts by comparing different stories of the "real" first Thanksgiving. They were put in groups and each group had to present their findings to the rest of the class.  One sweet student, who read an article from the perspective of the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans, stood proudly in front of the class and said loudly "Thanksgiving was a time of death and disappointment."  

Well, thanks, sweetheart, how nice.  She was right, of course.  It wasn't exactly a cheery, lets-be-best-friends day for the Pilgrims and the Indians, but I had to force myself not to laugh.  Oh, to be an overly-dramatic pre-adolescent girl.....

Anyway, I'm thrilled that Thanksgiving is no longer a day of death and disappointment.  Instead, it has morphed into a commercialized food fest, complete with turkeys, both real and cartoon, a Charlie Brown movie, and several casseroles that involve vegetables covered in butter and cheese (thanks, Paula Deen).  But I would like to focus on the THANKS part of THANKSgiving today.  I asked my students to list ten things they were thankful for this week.  For the sake of space, and so you don't stop reading, I'm only going to list five.

1. I am thankful for my family. I have two sisters who are two of my best friends. I have loving, supportive parents and grandparents. I truly could not think of enough words to express how much I need my family and how thankful I am for each one of them every, single day.
2. I am thankful for my best friend.  There are few people in this world who will wake up with you at 5 AM to go to the gym everyday, who will whine with you (and wine with you), laugh with you, and who share the same brain as you.  I am infinitely blessed to have a person like this, and it's something I don't say enough.  I am thankful for a best friend who know I'm thankful without me having to say it.  I am also, obviously, thankful for all of my friends, both the ones that live far away, for school or work, and the ones that live here.  Being the busy, over-involved person I am, I love my friends for picking back up where we left off, even if we haven't seen each other in a while.
3. I am thankful for my boyfriend.  Chance meetings can lead to great things, and I'm thankful that we met and gave this dating thing a shot. I'm thankful that I have a boyfriend that I can have fun with and share interests with.  I'm thankful that we both love and appreciate food, Razorback football, and so many others things.  And I'm thankful that you cheer me on in all that I do, especially at work.  This is a man who's never seen me teach but is convinced I'm the world's best teacher.  I love it. I'm also thankful that he has a family I look forward to seeing throughout the holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving day.  They are wonderful people, who made me feel comfortable and at ease from the moment I met them.
4. I am thankful for my job.  In this economy, I feel blessed just to have a job. But on top of that, I have an awesome job.  I am thankful for my administrators, who cheer me on and support me everyday.  I am thankful for the teachers I teach with, who are talented and funny and so supportive of each other, and I am, ultimately, thankful for my students, who without knowing it are my "guinea pigs" this year.  They have jumped in to every assignment and followed my lead and made me laugh and smile so much along the way.  They have also supplied some great blog material :)
5. Last but not least, I am thankful for the little things in life--the small, sweet moments. I am thankful for good books, cups of coffee, smiles from students as they walk by in the halls, good talks with friends, yoga classes when I'm stressed out, the ability to run and walk and be active in general, and the joy of knowing I am loved by more than one person in this world. 

The beauty of Thanksgiving is that it is the one day of the year when we are forced to accentuate the positive and recognize the plethora of blessings in our lives.  I'm looking forward to it (and to the food fest).

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