Giving Thanks

Natasha Watts, Author

Thanksgiving Day is special to a lot of Americans, but some don’t understand all of the hype. Yes, students receive a day off from school, some people get work off, most people have huge meals with their families, and some people even get to see family that they rarely get to. The thing is though, so many people don’t have enough money or time to have a “proper” celebration. Some people don’t feel as though they have anything to be thankful for. To many, Thanksgiving is just like any other day.

Should we be thankful for our parents providing for us, or should it be a ground expectation for a parent to provide a home, food, and love for us? Many students dislike that schools often force you to write essays, make artwork, or do other activities to express your gratefulness. Some, even if it is just for a short period in their life, may not feel as though they have anything to be thankful for.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being grateful for a roof over your head, food in your stomach, and having a compassionate family, but why should we shame people who are not grateful for these things? The phrases “you should appreciate having a place to live” or “be grateful that things are not worse for you” are anything but constructive. It is absolutely true that there is probably someone out there who has it worse than you do, but why is it an issue to wish you had more? 

Food, shelter, compassion, healthcare, a means of transportation, and so many other things should be seen as a need, not as a luxury. Americans specifically are guilty of looking down on the homeless, the impoverished, and the “ungrateful”. The LA Times, NY Times, American Scientific, and many other outlets have published articles talking about how harshly Americans judge people by their social class. In a society so intent on shaming the poor, why is there such an expectation for everyone to have a ready list of people, items, or experiences that they are grateful for?