When most people think of Thanksgiving they think of food. That’s the honest truth. Even I do. We think of turkey, ham, sweet potato pie, stuffing and so on. Some of us even look forward to the football games and parades on television. All of these exterior favorites have slowly taken away from the internal importance of Thanksgiving.

In elementary school we learn about the origin of Thanksgiving and the story of the pilgrims and Native Americans. We make cardboard turkeys from tracing our hands and fill cornucopias full of paper fruit. It is cute, but it doesn’t really teach us anything. I am under the impression that elementary school is fashioned to be very idealistic for the sake of the children, but it wouldn’t hurt to give them some real world knowledge.

Every year the question “What are you thankful for?” comes around. Some people give the traditional answers like friends or family. Some give people mention things they have received like a raise, a new car or a good home-cooked meal. Others have more of an egotistical approach when they mention their happiness and philanthropic qualities. I believe that individuals rarely think about why they are thankful for these things. Sometimes it seems like they are mentioning them without any thought as to what they would do without them.

I always wonder what it would be like to have no family. It is true that there are a portion of people out there with no relatives. It is a sad and unbelievable thought, but it is true. I couldn’t imagine not having someone to go home to on the holidays. To me, family and friends are the most important things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. We should appreciate them year round, but since Thanksgiving is the traditional time when we voice our thanks we should mention them. I know almost everyone says they are thankful for “friends and family,” but are they really? Are you thankful if you criticize your friends all the time? Are you thankful if you don’t try to keep in touch with your family? Are you thankful if you can’t remember the last time you told your mother you loved her?

What I am trying to say is that being thankful goes beyond just saying you are thankful. Show how thankful you are. If you have a classmate that has nowhere to go on the holidays, invite them home with you. If you know someone who can’t afford a nice dinner pull some strings and help that person have a hearty meal. If your mom cooks all the time offer to help her out with a dish or two. Showing your thankfulness goes a long way, longer than sitting down at the table and stuffing your face full of everything imaginable.

I can say that the holiday of Thanksgiving hasn’t lost all of its credibility because it hasn’t gone completely commercial like Christmas. It seems as if the American people have still held true to some of the traditional elements of Thanksgiving. Although, since it has not been jazzed up I feel that sometimes it is looked at as less important. Everyone I know has said that it seems as if Christmas starts earlier and earlier every year. I agree! I went to Wal-Mart a couple of days before Halloween and the Christmas section was already building. I find this rather ridiculous. Now, and I am not going to be hypocrite and say I don’t love Christmas (because I do), but Thanksgiving needs some love too! This past Thanksgiving has really made me think of the holiday and what it is really all about. I come from a background that didn’t normally celebrate any holiday at all, and when I moved in with my father and my step family I feel that I was shown another world. My step-family (which is basically my real family) is large and has more people than I can count. They love each other so much and are always willing to let others into their hearts. At first I was apprehensive about joining a new family, but after a while I felt like one of the gang. That is what I am thankful for. I am thankful for being accepted into such a lovely group of individuals and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t imagine my life without them.

So, when next year rolls around and it is Thanksgiving again take a step back and evaluate your life. Are you truly thankful for what you say you’re thankful for? Have you done a good job of showing your thankfulness? Thanksgiving is a holiday centered on appreciation and love so appreciate and love the holiday of Thanksgiving.