An open letter to Thanksgiving

Dear Thanksgiving,

I’ve never known exactly what to make of you. My family never had big get-togethers, and my being vegetarian tends to limit my turkey consumption. Plus, I’m guilty of framing you in my head as a pre-Christmas of sorts. But in recent years, I’ve started trying to give you more credit. Now that you’ve passed, leaving my stomach stuffed and my fondness for home refreshed, I’d like to take some time to appreciate you.

When you boil it down, Thanksgiving revolves around three things: prosperity, gratitude and sharing. We celebrate our blessings, give thanks for all that we have and come together with the people we love. The more I think about it, the more important this specific grouping seems.

At a place like Tufts, most of us have a lot to be thankful for. The majority of us come from families that are at least decently well off, and many grew up in families with abundant resources and opportunities. Sometimes, that becomes a loaded subject.

As a generally liberal and socially minded campus, it’s easy to fall into an economic version of survivor’s guilt. Personal wealth becomes a subject to avoid discussing; we prefer to talk about it only as a generalized concept from which our own lives are apart.

But when you think about it, doesn’t it seem kind of backwards to feel ashamed of prosperity? It’s not a bad thing to be thankful for what we have — maybe sometimes it’s worth stepping back and just thinking, “Yeah, I am pretty lucky,” without feeling guilty. After all, at the end of the day, aren’t we all working towards a world of prosperity? Being open and thankful about our own might be a place to start.

That said, the third element of Thanksgiving is sharing. Because who wants to eat an entire Thanksgiving feast all alone? A bounty of food is best enjoyed when shared with others, and the same goes for everything else, too. It’s kind of like the idea of paying it forward. We’re not supposed to reject good things that happen to us — we’re just supposed to use them as a motivation for improving the lives of others.

I’m not just talking about material wealth, either. Personally, I’m prosperous in the realm of family support and love — others are rich with talent or physical ability. Celebrating and sharing these are just as important as with food or wealth. Don’t feel like you need to downplay your own intelligence because not everyone is as “smart” — celebrate the fact that you were born with an awesome brain, and spread your knowledge to everyone around you. Be joyful and proud for whatever it is that enriches your life; prosperity is a wonderful thing, and it’s by spreading it, not by shunning it, that we’ll leave everyone better off.


Clara Wagner