Thanksgiving: Then vs Now


Robert Viray-Edwards, ENN Staff

Thanksgiving is an American holiday that is celebrated annually. From cooking home dishes to giving thanks to what someone is thankful for, Thanksgiving is a time to spend quality time with family. However, as years progressed, family traditions evolve and change. The kids are getting older, quality time with family seems less important, and there seems to be a shift from the overall meaning of the holiday to the food aspect.

Thanksgiving is a holiday originated by the Pilgrims and Native Americans coming together as one. Since then, it has evolved into a holiday of giving thanks to what one is thankful for. It includes making personal dishes and spending time with loved ones through activities. For US History teacher, Anthony Sheppard, Thanksgiving highlights the quality time with his family.

“Thanksgiving to me is the first opportunity in the year to gather with your family and celebrate what you are thankful for. Growing up, it would be my family, including the family members I haven’t seen in months and we would eat, watch football, and go in the front yard,” said Sheppard.

Some Thanksgiving traditions include visiting grandparents, camping, and watching televised Thanksgiving parades. Whether these traditions are celebrated independently or with family, it seems that these traditions are prevalent in the earlier years, but as time progresses, people fall out of these habits. Traditions that usually happen every year become activities that could possibly happen if not busy. For senior, Brianna Packer, her childhood Thanksgiving traditions have turned into distant memories.

“I remember whenever I was younger, me and my family would go visit my great grandmother for Thanksgiving. We would eat there and spend quality time together. However, these days, now that I am older, I don’t do that anymore. I don’t even see my family aside from my immediate family anymore,” said Packer.

Typically, kids grow out of their childlike ways whenever they reach their teenage years. As the kids start to mature, the ‘American Dream’ family traditions start to shift. Holidays become less about the festivities and more about the overall meaning. For senior, Jada Brown, she noticed that traditions started to pass her by whenever she entered her preteen years.

“Whenever I entered middle school is when things started to change, so around 7th or 8th grade. Typically, every Thanksgiving, me and my family always go see a movie at the movie theater, but as of late, we don’t do it as much anymore. We still hang out and spend time together, but we don’t do the things that we used to,” said Brown.

As a kid, things seem more surreal and kids are seeing things from a different perspective. However, as kids grow older, opinions change on the annual holiday. Some people prefer to go back to their childhood and experience Thanksgiving through a child’s eyes again. For senior, Malik Morris, Thanksgiving through his younger years was a lot more enjoyable.

“I would love to go through Thanksgiving again as a kid. Everything seemed so easy back then. I didn’t cook, I spent time with my family beyond my immediate family, and I got to have lots of fun. Though I do enjoy it now, it was like what you see in the TV shows whenever I was younger,” said Morris.

As time progresses, the importance of Thanksgiving alters. Some believe that Thanksgiving is mostly about the food, while others believe the real meaning of Thanksgiving which is about giving thanks for what one is grateful for. As people grow up, they start to recognize their own personal spectrum of importance for Thanksgiving. For senior, Calah Mitchell, as she grew up, the importance of Thanksgiving started becoming more clear to her.

“I feel like Thanksgiving is more important to me now than it was before, when I was younger. When I was younger, all I cared about was about the food, but now I actually get to partake in making the food. Also, spending quality time with my family is very important to me now,” said Mitchell.

Though Thanksgiving traditions might change over the years, the overall meaning of the holiday remains the same. Giving thanks through festive home foods and one’s personal activities. Thanksgiving is a time to get together and spend time with loved ones.