Opinion: Why We Shouldn't Forget About Thanksgiving

The holiday season is finally here, and if you are like me, you are extremely excited. Regardless of the holidays you may celebrate during this month, this season is always a joyous time of reflection for us all. We give back to those we love, which makes this season the most wholesome. However, there is a holiday that we often forget about in the holiday season, and that holiday is the one and only Thanksgiving.

I am not overly patriotic, but if someone hands me an American flag, I will wave it. That is somewhat representative of my feelings towards Thanksgiving. I do not agree with the terms that the English Puritans subjected the native Wampanoag tribe to, but I do like the concept of Thanksgiving and what it now represents.

It is a time to really remember who and what you are grateful for, and why they are so important in your life. I feel like Thanksgiving really kicks off the holiday season and gets us in the mood for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Ōmisoka. It reminds us of who we need to give back to and more importantly, why we are giving back to them.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, Thanksgiving is somewhat forgotten. In recent years, we have gone from Halloween straight toward Christmas. This is partially due to the big businesses, commercialization and “amazing Christmas deals” — but the blame should be on us, too.

I do not mean to be a holiday cynic, but I think there is some cultural significance to Thanksgiving that should be preserved by our generation. Maybe it’s not the cruel and disgusting way the settlers treated the Wampanoag tribe we should remember and pass down to our children, but rather it we should pass the family memories we have from over the years.

Many of us remember the spectacular Thanksgiving parade hosted by Macy’s each year, the closeness of our families, and my favorite, the stuffed belly you get afterwards. These are all now considered symbols of fall, and I love it.

Thanksgiving means something different to each of us as college students. For UF freshman Lily Hadeagh, it's about celebrating the cultures of her family.

“I am half-Iranian and half-Korean, but we pretty much only have Iranian relatives that live in Florida,” Hadaegh said. “One family member will host Thanksgiving at their house. It’s really cool because it’s a mix of traditional American food and Iranian food. But, this could change depending on whose house we are at. My one aunt married a Jamaican male, so sometimes we have Jamaican food. Thanksgiving is important for us because Iranians really like to eat food together as a family. It’s a time for everyone to be together, especially because everyone is always busy with work and school.”

For me, Thanksgiving is about spending time with my family in a memorable spot. Every year — ever since I was five years old — my family goes to Disney World for Thanksgiving week. My grandfather (or Popi) always takes our suggestions and makes an idealistic and perfect itinerary. While there, we go Christmas shopping and ride rides and just spend time together. It’s a family tradition, and it’s the Thanksgiving tradition that keeps us going back every year.

We all have our own traditions and memories from Thanksgiving that we need to keep alive. Family is so important, and we should emphasize that to our children. We need to remember why it’s important in the first place. Not for the oppressive history, but rather the memories we have made with our families.