By ANDREW PAXTON
As we prepare for the holiday season with thoughts of big meals and expensive new gadgets, few of us take the time to consider what we are supposed to be celebrating in the first place.
Most people don’t understand the history of the rituals they engage in year after year, and those who do give little thought to the reasons behind their actions. Society has forgotten the true reason for celebration and concentrates only on the material aspects of the days in question.
Thanksgiving is a classic example of a generally misunderstood and perhaps misguided event, which seems to honor American consumerism more than family or tradition.
With football blasting on the flat-screen TV and family members who barely speak to each other stuffing their faces with enough food to feed a small village while preparing their Black Friday itineraries, there isn’t much about a modern Thanksgiving that the Pilgrims would recognize.
November is also Native American History Month, a fact that almost seems like cruel irony. If the first European settlers hadn’t received help from the indigenous people, the entire scope of American history could have been emphatically different for both cultures.
So how many will take the time to remember the true sentiment behind Thanksgiving?
Although the name implies a distinctly religious overtone, even atheists like me can value the spirit of the day simply by spending quality time with family and friends and appreciating the things that make life worth living.
The same can be said for Christmas, or any of the other religious holidays celebrated in December. I don’t know enough to opine about most of them, but I can say that people seem to have forgotten the true intention of these holidays as well.
The obsession with material objects is nothing new. The rise of industrialized machines and free time has led to a need to entertain the masses for well over a century. But the ever-growing need for the newest electronic gizmo has led to an all-time low of human empathy.
During the holiday break, I urge you to remember what these special times are supposed to represent and model your actions accordingly.
Spend some time volunteering to help those who don’t have enough food, or no one to spend their holiday with. Do something to make your loved ones feel appreciated while you have the chance, instead of waiting until something bad happens and it’s too late.
Empowering and valuing others is a greater gift than any electronic contraption. It will leave you with a much more satisfied feeling inside than a belly full of turkey could ever provide.