Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Thanksgiving is seen as a time to gather around the dinner table, reconnect with family, update your cousins on your relationship tea, and enjoy sparkling grape juice with your aunt (who definitely thinks it’s champagne). Honestly, though, I think Thanksgiving is going to die with the boomers. Modern-day Thanksgiving celebrations can detract from the holiday’s problematic past, and it simply no longer makes sense for Gen Z. 

After a semester of eating unfulfilling dining hall food, Thanksgiving dinner does bring some joy to our palates — even though some argue otherwise. However, we tend to glaze over Thanksgiving’s dark history with gravy and stuffing, and in my opinion, there are way better ways to celebrate the season. November can still be a time for gratitude and quality time with family — but does it really require the whole Thanksgiving dinner ordeal? 

In America, Thanksgiving has always been regarded as one of the most important holidays of the year. Growing up, my generation was taught that Thanksgiving was a peaceful, collaborative event, instilling the long-held belief that Indigenous people and “pilgrims” formed a treaty. However, Gen Z knows better, and we’re unafraid to point out the truth: that the history of Thanksgiving is tragic. Why do we celebrate a date that Indigenous people mourn? I believe Gen Z has the power to change the narrative. We can certainly keep the tradition of family gatherings and fun alive, but we also need to bring awareness to the obvious harm and mistreatment of Indigenous communities that is still prevalent today.

So, what does Thanksgiving look like this year? Ironically, according to a 2021 survey conducted by Lending Tree, millennials (ages 25 to 40) and members of Gen Z (ages 18 to 24) — are the most likely to be Thanksgiving hosts this year. One potential reason for this: Friendsgiving is growing in popularity, and we’ve been separated from our loved ones for the past year and a half — meaning that maybe, we’re simply ready to celebrate again. Personally, I think Friendsgiving is wholesome and genuinely enjoyable; you’re usually surrounded by people you genuinely like, and you aren’t forced to sit around and put up with the family drama, listen to ridiculous arguments, or judgments from grandma. Honestly, I wouldn’t be opposed to swapping Thanksgiving with Friendsgiving altogether. 

Based on results from the survey, it appears 47% of Americans plan to host Thanksgiving dinner this year, and consumers are predicted to spend an average of $391.60 to put turkey, buns, and green beans on the table. Even if that number is down 18% from 2020 since when is $391.60 a reasonable number to spend on one singular meal? I’d much rather donate that money to an organization that supports Native American communities in place of buying a ton of food and going Black Friday shopping like many Americans do the next day. I’m perplexed as to why we’re fighting to keep this problematic holiday alive — there must be something more meaningful we can do, right?

At the end of the day, Thanksgiving can be an amazing opportunity to visit home and be surrounded by people who bring you love, joy, and happiness. However, as Gen Z evolves and changes, it’s our responsibility to recognize problematic traditions and not let them continue simply because it’s what we’ve always done. Remember: Thanksgiving isn’t all sunshine and turkeys. 

Gen Z recognizes the pain and suffering that Indigenous people associate with Thanksgiving, so why do we still celebrate something so destructive? We all have the power to change the narrative, not simply “gloss over” history, and evolve Thanksgiving into a holiday that’s meaningful and honors history. If you’re celebrating this year, by all means, enjoy your turkey, but remember the day has a hidden meaning that we should never forget.

Meguire Hennes is a Her Campus Editorial Intern and a senior at Montclair State University. She is majoring in Fashion Studies. Meguire is excited to share her knowledge of pop culture, music, today's fashion and beauty trends, self love/mental health, astrology, and musical theatre. When not writing or in class, Meguire can be found living her best Carrie Bradshaw life in NYC, singing 70s/80s classic rock a little too loud in the shower, or watching her favorite rom-coms over and over again. Coming from a small town in Wisconsin, she's excited to see what adventures await her in the big city!
Similar Reads👯‍♀️