I know that those of you reading my column this month have just celebrated one of America’s most important and family-oriented holidays of the entire year: Thanksgiving.
Whether you count down the days until you and all of your crazy relatives can gather into one overcrowded location and eat copious amounts of food, or you count down the hours until you can escape the clutches of Uncle Harold and Aunt Marge, who likes to apply her lipstick in generous doses, chances are, Thanksgiving is a holiday your family celebrates in one way or another.
I’m also willing to bet that most of you are thinking about not finishing this article, because all month long you hear nothing but “celebrate what you’re thankful for” and “The 20 best ways to slice a turkey.” But stick with me, I promise I have a good point.
Even with the holiday being conveniently referred to as “Thanksgiving,” most people associate the day with an overload of food, which leads to what we classy Americans cleverly call a “turkey coma.”
However, there is so much more to this holiday than how much food we can manage to consume before falling asleep on the loveseat in an unattractive manner. And by that, I mean we shouldn’t forget to give thanks during the Thanksgiving season.
Being away from home for more than a couple weeks at a time for the first time this year, I have developed a new perspective for this holiday. Especially with the events that have occurred this past year, most recently, Superstorm Sandy, I have become much more thankful for the lot that I have been afforded.
So to celebrate this holiday, I thought it would be appropriate to review the year and explain why I am thankful for its events.
To begin, I am completely grateful for the wonderful family that I was very fortunate to have been a part of. Whether it is my immediate family, complete with parents and siblings, or all of the extra aunts, uncles, cousins and miscellaneous odds and ends, I don’t know where I would be without any one of them. Being away from them, even just for the past three months, has truly emphasized the importance of the family unit and taught me not to take for granted any time I have to spend with them.
Branching off of the family that I am related to, I am also thankful for the family that I am not related to: my friends. This past year, as I said “see you soon” to the friends that I’ve had since elementary and middle school, I was reminded of all of the experiences that we shared with one another, and determined not to drift apart from them once we all went on our separate paths.
While this goal has proven to be a bit more difficult than any of us would have liked, we all also understand that while we are all out of sight, it does not necessarily mean that we are also out of mind. Not only will this time off from school serve as a time to share with family, but I also made sure to set aside some time to catch up with friends.
Making the transition into college life is undoubtedly a tricky and somewhat scary one, but one that I decided to make the most out of, and speaking as a college student with at least a little bit of experience, college can truly be the time of your life, if you choose for it to be.
I am thankful for the people that I have met and will meet at school, everyone from my suitemates to classmates and my eccentric professors — there is something to learn from each person you meet, and it is up to you to learn what that is.
Plattsburgh, where I attend school, is also where my sister and mother both attended college. At first, I did not think I wanted to follow in their footsteps and continue the family tradition. I thought I wanted to break away from that and “be my own person.”
However, I am truly glad I took a second look at the situation and went ahead with it anyway, because even though being at Plattsburgh makes me feel a strong connection to both of them, I also know that I am free to be my own person and make my own name there.
I think now would be an appropriate time for me to hop off my soap box and simply reiterate my suggestion to you all: take advantage of the time you have at home with everyone you love around you, and let them know what you’re grateful for.
Now, where are the leftover mashed potatoes?
Maggie McVey, a 2012 graduate of Oneonta High School, is a freshman at the State University College at Plattsburgh. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk