What does Thanksgiving really mean to me?


Photo courtesy of Get Smart Rat Solutions

Thanksgiving has become much more than a holiday for enjoying food and family.

When thinking of Thanksgiving, the first thing that often comes to mind is how much its meaning has changed since it was first celebrated hundreds of years ago.
Though its origins can be rightfully controversial in regards to the relationship between pilgrims and Native Americans, Thanksgiving is now known as a time to appreciate family, good food, and awkward conversations with relatives.
Coming from an immigrant family, Thanksgiving is one of those holidays my mom had us celebrate so we could feel included at school. Our family, like most, gave Thanksgiving its own meaning.
It became a time to appreciate the culture from back home by adding non-traditional dishes to the Thanksgiving table, while also appreciating our new life built here. It’s a time to surround yourself with friends that begin to feel like family.
Our first ever Thanksgiving consisted of my immediate family and our closest family friend’s immediate family. The entire night was spent with the two families divided into different rooms, unsure of how they were supposed to be celebrating the holiday.
This narrative of the American holiday has evolved within recent years. Some years, 80 people were over for our Thanksgiving dinner, and I would receive weird looks from ladies I’ve never met for opening my own fridge. Other years, like during the pandemic, it was only our closest friends.
Nonetheless, every year many weeks of preparation and care went into crafting the perfect Thanksgiving meal, with different aspects from different parts of our lives. And now, everyone refuses to celebrate the holiday anywhere but our house.
As people flood into our house annually, I can begin to sense how happy everyone is to just be there, celebrating Thanksgiving with the people that have become their family overtime. Everyone separates into their own circles, dads outside around the fire, moms and aunts inside finishing up the food, and cousins on their yearly walk.
Soon, all these groups come together at the promise of a huge meal and we truly start to realize the labor of love spread out on the table in front of us. While carving turkeys and passing around dishes, the conversation shifts and becomes reminiscent of past Thanksgiving celebrations, family vacations, and embarrassing moments that could never leave this group.
As cliché and overdone as it may sound to say Thanksgiving is about being thankful for family, the holiday really highlights discovering who our family is.
Not necessarily the blood relatives or the marital ties, but the people who give us something to look forward to every year. The people who make it worth losing our fingernails to a cheese grater, or staying up all night the day before Thanksgiving to prepare a massive turkey dinner.
These are the people who make us want to come back and visit, and people we want to keep around long enough so our kids can understand not only the importance, but true meaning of this holiday.