Thankful for shopping?

How Americans have changed the meaning of Thanksgiving

Lillie Klauer, Staff contributor

The day which used to be a time of thanks has all boiled down to one where people wait in chilly tents to rush into a store and fight over who picked up an item first: the fourth Thursday of November, also known as Thanksgiving. The debated ‘precious’ holiday has become a day dedicated to shopping rather than being grateful for the things already owned. But, even with the latter in mind, what is Thanksgiving?

Every child has heard the story over and over again about the Mayflower drifting all the way from England in hopes of a better future of life and government. Then, the pilgrims were plagued with sickness and disease from being cold, unsanitary, and starving. With the help of their neighbors, the Wampanoag Indians, they were able to learn how to cultivate corn, extract sap, catch fish, and avoid poisonous plants. While the relationship between the pilgrims and Native Americans was not always glorious, the Wampanoag remains one of the only tribes to have a peaceful relationship with the pilgrims. After a successful harvest, a celebratory three-day feast was planned, and the Wampanoags were invited.

In the years following, more feasts occurred, but it wasn’t until 1789 that George Washington proclaimed the feast a holiday, known as Thanksgiving today. Washington told the people of the United States to be grateful for the conclusion of the war for independence and the creation of the Constitution.

Today, the world often sees Thanksgiving as a day to be thankful. Allison Miller, senior, says Thanksgiving means “being thankful for what you have and spending quality time with family.” Sydney Prochaska added, “That’s the one time of year I get to see all of my family, and I get to eat my aunt’s apple pie.” Although the delicious food is a perk of feasting, spending time with people who have been busy across the country or at college is a realization of all that you are thankful for, just as the founding fathers planned it to be.

What they didn’t plan for was people camping out overnight just to get a good deal on possibly cheap items big stores have brought in. Sitting in a tent, freezing, rather than sitting at home filling up on turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry salad, and pumpkin pie, is a choice many have to make in the modern Thanksgiving day. Maybe if the sales didn’t start until the day after Thanksgiving at regular opening times it wouldn’t be a huge deal, because let’s be honest–Christmas shopping is great. But, opening at eight in the evening on Thanksgiving Thursday only makes for a sad grandma who wanted to see her grandkids for the day.

The idea to get Christmas shopping done early at low prices is a great strategy. Although, Thanksgiving is already given very little attention since Christmas music starts playing Nov. 1 every year. Take time this year to think about all to be grateful for; think about the people and things that won’t be here in another 20 years, and thank them for being in your life.