Thanksgiving in our Community


Jake Nordberg, Author

     What do you do on Thanksgiving? This question, along with four other questions, was asked to twenty-six students and eight teachers to see how Millburn/Short Hills (along with its surrounding area) celebrates Thanksgiving. The answers given were mostly along the lines of what you would expect, but does that mean other places across the country celebrate like us? Do we all want to be celebrating Thanksgiving the same way, or do some of us secretly wish to do things differently?

     Most people in our town and across the country celebrate Thanksgiving in similar ways, by spending time with family and eating a big feast usually consisting of mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn, sweet potatoes, and of course, turkey. There are some differences in how we spend time with our family, some people watch football, some people play football or a different sport. Some people just hang out with their families, and a few students just sit in a corner in their room and watch Netflix. While most people celebrate Thanksgiving, they all have slightly different ways of going about it.

     Some people also have a different amount of guests showing up that they spend time with. All questioned teachers spend their Thanksgiving with at least ten people, but not all students. Only fourteen students spend Thanksgiving with at least ten people and eight students spend their Thanksgiving with under ten people, while the rest just don’t celebrate. So while most people celebrate the way you’d expect them to, do they want to?

     Yes. Most people would like to spend Thanksgiving the way that they do, although with some minor differences. Some want to go for a bike ride or go on vacation somewhere. One teacher even said they would like to work on fixing a car before meeting up with family. Everyone, except for a couple of students, said that they would all still like to celebrate with their family in addition to these minor differences. 

     Do people secretly wish to do things differently, or do they look forward to doing some things, such as watching Netflix, more than seeing family? Quite a few students do look forward to something other than family. One-third of students look forward to eating the food the most, while other students, however, choose family. Some choose family and food if they couldn’t decide between the two. Most of the teachers said that they are excited to see family but, one said that they are most excited for the food, another teacher said that they couldn’t decide between family and food.

     While most people are excited to either see family or eat the great food of Thanksgiving, what do they think of when the thought of Thanksgiving comes into their head? About half of students thought of turkey while only three thought about family. The rest thought of both family and food or something different. Some of the teachers thought of family, one thought of turkey, and some pictured something different. One teacher said they thought of a turnip. I’m not judging.

     Even though when people thought about Thanksgiving, they didn’t think of history, do they still know about the history of Thanksgiving? The short answer is that most people know the general theme of it. The pilgrims came to North America during colonial times and had a feast with the natives to give thanks, hence the name, “Thanksgiving”. Most people answered along those lines, except for social studies teachers, of course. What most people don’t know is that the pilgrims weren’t giving thanks, but instead they were rejoicing because of their success.

     So, in conclusion, most people answered the exact way you’d expect them to with an unexpected answer once in a while. However, the surprising thing was that only one-fifth of the thirty-four people asked said anything about being thankful. This was surprising to me because Thanksgiving is a holiday about being thankful, and I would have thought that everyone would take a moment sometime that day to be thankful (even though the pilgrims didn’t celebrate it that way). When I asked one teacher they said “it’s sad that we need a holiday to be thankful” this is sad but true, and even on that holiday, some people don’t even think about being thankful. Most of us have succeeded at the spending time with family part of the holiday, now some of us need to work on the being thankful part.