At Thanksgiving, it’s all about family

For some, it will be the first large get-together in two years


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For religion teacher Mr. Matt Cannaday, a gathering with the entire family is part of his Thanksgiving tradition.

Meg Hasch, Reporter

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful and reflect with family and friends closest to you. Throughout the school, many traditions can be found to lie in the families of students, faculty, staff and even alumni.

As the story goes, the autumn harvest in 1621 between the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag tribe is recognized as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations, and until 1863 Thanksgiving was celebrated separately in each colony and then state when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday to take place each November. 

This autumn harvest came about when the Plymouth colonists were struggling to survive the winter and disease and finding food to survive so when they found help in Squanto, a Native American who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery who taught them how to heal and survive in the brutal winter. 

After that, the Plymouth colonists made allies with the neighboring Wampanoag tribe and formed a treaty that would last more than 50 years and is evidence of one of the only peaceful and friendly relationships between the colonists and natives.Of course, it all went a little downhill from here, but that’s for another article. 

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for what you have and be with your family, whether that means traveling or staying in town. This national holiday holds many meanings to many different people. To religion teacher Mr. Matt Cannaday, it means, as he said, “A time of year to stop and be thankful for the many gifts of faith, family and friends. It’s a time to appreciate the many gifts we take for granted as Americans, while also being challenged to bring those who are disenfranchised to an equal place at the table.”

Today, many traditions lie in plain sight of those we know and love. These traditions could involve activities, Thanksgiving dinner, and many more. Sophomore Emily Day said, “One Thanksgiving tradition in my family is making turkeys out of potatoes, radishes, paper plates and toothpicks.” Day also described another tradition of her family as making dinner together. 

Cannaday said, “We usually have about 30 to 40 people in and out at my grandparents’ house in Irvington on the day of Thanksgiving, and we usually trade trips with our Florida relatives every other year earlier in November. We’re blessed to have them here this week.”  

Having family close together is something appreciated throughout many families. Not many are as close as Cannaday’s who described his: “We are a very tight knit bunch, so this is a time of year where we remember all of those who have graced us with their presence throughout the years, living or dead. It means the world to me that we’re able to put aside any internal divisions that might be going on to celebrate the gift of family.”

As a Catholic school, there’s clearly a religious element to the holiday Cannaday described Thanksgiving and its relationship to Catholicism, saying, “Since Thanksgiving is more of a secular American feast than a religious one, there isn’t a strong history with this feast day in particular.”

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a coincidence somewhere. Cannaday added, “However, the very word ‘Eucharist’ means ‘to give thanks’ and, as Christians, we are called to constantly give thanks to the Lord with our lives. In our Mass, the priest even says, ‘It is right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give You thanks.’ It’s literally part of it being saved to give thanks to the Father.”

Day commented that her family likes to integrate what they are thankful for into their prayer before the meal. While there is no direct role of religion in the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday due to the fact that it is a secular one, many families still integrate it into the feast.