Thankful for each other

For high school students, the major holidays of the fall semester are Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. After making it through three months of the school year, Halloween provides a fun time for students to relax, dress up, hang out, and of course eat some candy. However, as soon as the clock hits midnight on November 1, students are eagerly looking forward to the bright light (that is, Christmas lights) at the end of the tunnel, signifying Christmas. Just saying the word “Christmas” makes every student feel the anticipated relief of finishing a long semester, being done worrying over grades, and the stress of exams being lifted off of their shoulders. This instant switch, however, tends to leave Thanksgiving in the shadows. It is hard for a holiday to compete, seemingly, with another holiday full of presents, decorative trees, romantic movies, snow, and of course music. Though the timing of when Christmas music is officially appropriate to listen to is argued over, it cannot be denied that stores, cars, and earbuds blast the music seemingly everywhere you go. Stores advertise their holiday specials, from peppermint drinks, to red and green clothing, to christmas tree smelling candles. Christmas, on November 1, is officially in season.
Thanksgiving is seemingly only recalled for its abundance of food for a meal. However, Thanksgiving is truly a time to stop and realize what we have and why it means something to us. A welcoming aspect of Thanksgiving is the appreciation of the slowing down and taking it all in. For high schoolers at Westminster, it is easy to get caught up in the day to day rigor of juggling academics, extracurricular activities in school and out of school, and a social life. Throughout the school year, students strive to do and be their best, which is not easy. This first long break of the school year provides a time for students to turn from their homework and rest, focusing on other aspects of life that can get pushed to the side in busy day to day school life, such as relationships with people students care about, and remembering to be thankful.
To some, the importance of family becomes abundant and prominent. Thanksgiving is a popular time for families to come together. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and in laws often use this week to take time from their separate lives and come together as a unit. Being in each others presence and spending time face to face, especially when in person contact may not be often, is something to cherish.
“Since my brother is off to college this year, I haven’t had the chance to see him. It’s been hard because we’re so close, and so it was really amazing to get to see him and catch up face to face,” says junior Kate Howard. This often reminds people how important family is and how in-person interaction with family is a different aspect than a quick phone call every now and then in the midst of students’ busy schedules.
“I have always been close with my family which I am really thankful for, so getting to see them is really special,” says Howard. “My family is important to me because they are the people I’m connected to and they represent my upbringing and have influenced the person I have become greatly. Getting to see my extended family over Thanksgiving is really something I cherish.”
Another important relationship, though not forged by marriage or bloodlines, is friendship. An increasingly popular event among teenagers is “friendsgiving.” Friendsgiving is exactly what it sounds like: a Thanksgiving for friends. Friends get together, each person typically bringing a dish or item, and they enjoy a meal together as friends, getting to just be together and catch up over good food. Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful after all, and as busy high school students it can be easy to get caught up in school and see friends less, especially if friends do not have the same classes or other activities throughout the school day.
“I am thankful for my friends because they are always there to help me and support me,” says sophomore Olivia Hazelhurst. Having close relationships with peers is so important because friendships promote spaces of encouragement and support, safe spaces for discussion and self expressing, and even help with self esteem and bringing in positive influences. This offers a time to remind us to be thankful for good friends and show the gratitude we feel for them.
“My favorite thing about friendsgiving was getting to take a break from school and getting to hang out and relax with my friends,” says Hazelhurst.
While school can be intense and stressful, Westminster has also given each student incredible opportunities to be thankful for, from great education to various service opportunities, travel opportunities, clubs to be apart of, and teams to play with. Relationships are an important aspect of school life for students, both with adults and peers. Teachers dedicate themselves to bettering each student. They work hard to teach us information and to do well academically, pushing us to our potential and showing students they are capable of succeeding. Not only do they teach, but these adults also work to affect our lives in positive ways and be there for students outside of curricular. These teachers also coach sports or watch over clubs, and take interests in their lives to help us grow our own interests and passions. In the classroom and on these teams, students work together to take the tools they have been given to improve, helping each other to succeed and learn through collaboration, teamwork, and support for each other.
“I am grateful to be on a team because it gives me an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself,” says junior football player Tripp Wood. “Being on this team means that I identify as a brother to everyone else in the program, which is not only humbling, but also influences me to act in ways that I know can benefit the rest of the family, which so many people contribute to and are proud to be a part of.”