Thanksgiving through the years
Turkey hands, leaf collages, pumpkin-flavored treats: The Thanksgiving of the past can be roughly summed up by these tacky, delicious and entertaining vestiges of our childhoods.
The holiday was simple- there was no laboring over the injustices committed by the Pilgrims or the fact that the story of the “first Thanksgiving” was likely a sham. (I apologize for shattering that illusion.) It was a color-themed playtime with a magical story mixed in.
Years have gone by, however, since the days of the Pilgrim plays, and it no longer seems so relevant that the Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock. In our hectic college lives, Thanksgiving has taken on a different meaning.
Junior Katrina Cruz remembers Thanksgiving fondly from her childhood. The day was full of party dresses, family and tradition. Each year, Cruz celebrated twice: in the afternoon with food, football and a napping grandpa, and in the evening with singing, dancing and more food. A picky eater when she was younger, Cruz wanted ham instead of turkey, so her family cooked an entire ham for her each year.
They were, of course, also nice enough to help her finish it.
As a child, Cruz was struck by the dynamic of having several dozen cousins and relatives in one place. “There was always an aura in the air,” she said.
Cruz now observes a different sort of dynamic.
“When you [were] a kid, family conflicts were not an issue-you got to see family [and] sing-it was exciting,” said Cruz. “Now I notice when people fight, and the magic is sort of gone.”
That’s not to say Thanksgiving has lost all of its charm. For junior Megan Bailey, Thanksgiving has taken on a special significance since she has been away at college.
“Before, since [all of us] were at home, Thanksgiving was more about eating,” said Bailey. “I think now it’s more about getting to see my family.”
Prior to this year, Bailey’s Thanksgiving traditions had always remained the same, with the entire family converging at her grandmother’s house to enjoy a tasty meal. This year, the holiday will move to her house, but the reunion of her family is still the central focus.
Seeing traditions altered and rewritten is familiar for senior Atina Rizk. Rizk, whose parents are from Egypt, celebrates Thanksgiving with a spread of Egyptian foods that contain turkey.
“Being part of a foreign family celebrating Thanksgiving is interesting,” she said. “The holiday is uniquely American, but celebrated in so many different ways.”
For the most part, there seems to be a tradition of anticipation that encompasses the Thanksgiving of our pasts. “When you’re a kid, there’s a lot of buildup,” said Rizk.
The holiday is magical, and that magic enters the mind early. So much is done in advance to prepare for the feast to come: menus are planned in advance, and relatives make arrangements to visit.
These days, though, the holiday seems much more abrupt than it did when we were little.
“In college, Thanksgiving is more of a lull before finals time,” said Rizk. “It’s a little bit of a surprise.”
Still, that surprise itself is something to be thankful for. Rizk has certainly found that the Thanksgiving lull inserted among weeks of academic slavery has a value she didn’t realize in earlier years.
“It’s almost better now-[Thanksgiving] is an opportunity to remind yourself of why you.go to class every day [and] remain in a never-ending struggle to do well,” said Rizk. “You go home to see your parents and realize why you’re doing it all. It reinvigorates your sense of purpose.”
Some, of course, find that the holiday has not entirely changed.
“They still make me my ham,” said Cruz.
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