OPINION: Thanksgiving is the best holiday


Hand turkey drawings. Image: Rebecca Cunningham

Rebecca Cunningham, Staff Writer

I was born on Thanksgiving. I don’t remember the day, but every year my parents share stories about sleep deprivation and eating cold turkey sandwiches from the Brigham and Women’s hospital cafeteria. My aunts and uncles always laugh as I apologize profusely for ruining my family’s 2003 Thanksgiving.

Contrary to what one might expect, I disliked Thanksgiving as a young child. I adored Christmas (for presents) and Halloween (for costumes), and my opinion changed daily regarding the best of the two. Either way, I saw Thanksgiving as the holiday for adult conversations and dead leaves. Charlie Brown could not change my mind. 

As I grew older, however, I began to value my relationships more than candy canes. Upon reflection, I realized many of my best memories came from Thanksgiving break. Every year, for example, my cousins and I organize a game of capture the flag. At midnight. With severe punishment for losing. One time I remember standing in the snow freezing and drenched with water from the garden hose. I cherish late-November evenings playing marbles on the living room floor, while my grandfather retells the same anecdote he told at dinner. 

In large part, the lack of commercialization invites the warm Thanksgiving spirit. Yes yes, the Macy’s Day Parade draws crowds every year, but otherwise, handmade decorations trump latex balloons and paper streamers. Whereas Christmas and Halloween rely on material items, gift-giving for Thanksgiving comes in the form of an affectionate hug or braiding hair by the fire. Across the country, people simply have fun with loved ones, instead of worrying about the newest kitchen gadget.

While I cannot wait to see my relatives at Thanksgiving, I have also come to appreciate the holiday for the moment dedicated to gratitude. We all lead busy lives. Thanksgiving provides the opportunity to reflect on the events and individuals who made the past year special. As a high school senior, I find myself focused on school work, college applications, and my never-ending to-do list. Through expressing gratitude, I can find joy and peace amidst the chaos. 

And then, finally, there is the delicious food: apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, more pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes. Cranberry bread replaces the usual pasta salad to compliment a fall potluck. In my family, whoever hosts prepares and serves the main meal. Everyone else arrives at the door with an hors d’oeuvre or side, or rather, the ingredients for their hors d’oeuvre or side. We all seem to run behind schedule when cooking. In the kitchen, I chop carrots frantically with my sisters and hide cookie dough from “starving” cousins. The smell of homemade stuffing and the sound of easy chatter wafts throughout the room as we work.

Thanksgiving is the best holiday. Although I refused to celebrate ten years ago, today the date is circled in red sharpie on my calendar. I wish BHS students and teachers a relaxing break and a splendid Thanksgiving.