It’s gotten to that point of the year; frost is setting overnight, coats are coming out from their hibernation. Flu shots are free for the students, and already some trees stand bare. Ahh yes, it’s about that time. Ever since I was young, my mom would tell me to watch out for the change of seasons, for that’s when people tend to underestimate the weather and get sick after going face to face with the still hot sun, but chilling winds. Around this time is also when the fall semester really hits the low point for a lot of students. Professors are trying to wrap up before the long-awaited fall break, and whether you are a faculty or a student, deadlines and exams are up to your neck.
But this is also a sign for a holiday that we all hold so near and dear to our heart, especially as we grow older and live away our family. As the ‘legend’ tells us, the pilgrims were the ones who started the tradition, shortly after coming to the new land. But in my opinion, what the pilgrims were doing was simply a transition of a sort of ‘harvest celebration’ from one place to another. And what I mean by that is that Thanksgiving – while celebrated under many different names in different lands – is one and the same in spirit. Thanksgiving in a very general sense, is giving thanks – to whomever it may be, which may differ in so many different ways – for a good year of harvest. Most cultures that farm have it either before or after harvest, and it often features a really big party meant to be shared with other people. Oh, and also lots of food – almost forgot about that.
An interesting shift in the way people live, however, might change our conceptual understanding of what thanksgiving is over the long run. We now live in a society where majority of the population do not farm, and a small handful of corporations and private farmers essentially feed the world. For the majority of people, who celebrate with turkey, cranberry sauce and pies, Thanksgiving’s original intention has been lost within the act of celebrating it, and we’ve come to celebrate Thanksgiving for the sake of celebration. However, Thanksgiving has also attained a new meaning as well. As our social paradigm often places family members far and wide across the country – and even the globe, Thanksgiving has also become a holiday of homecoming, and one of shared sense of family, and of community. It is the time when amidst the chilling winds and bare fields, the family members can gather from many places and catch up – perhaps, giving thanks that we’re all still doing alright, and for having each other, in this world that continues to grow distant and aloof.
This Thanksgiving, I want you to chew on something – food, yes. But also think about what Thanksgiving has become for you. Because the thing is, for a holiday that only comes once a year Thanksgiving has a history that goes much longer than most other holidays. It’s probably been celebrated for many millennia, and the context by which we celebrate it has been constantly changing. But even in a short interval of a person’s lifetime, so many things can change. And we as individuals go through so many changes even within a day; think about that and what Thanksgiving means. Because it’s a holiday for a reason in the end.
Jung-In Kim/Intern Reporter