Every year, Saint Xavier closes down for the Thanksgiving holiday. The dorms empty and the students go home. This leaves a quiet peace here on campus as the sounds of footsteps and cars no longer grace the air with its presence. With no one in the dorms, I’m guessing the maintenance staff is very thankful for a reprieve from the usual rambunctiousness of the student body. It’s safe to say that the student body is also very thankful. For many, it is a well-needed rest before finals week. Others find it a chance to be with family and enjoy some long missed home cooking. And it is this time that we as Americans take a moment to think of the things that we are grateful for and lucky to have, whether that be the families we grew up with or made, the country we live in or the possessions we have. However, in these times of great political polarization and hate on both sides of the aisle, there is a threat to that time of unity and of humble thanks.
Respect, an integral part of life here in Saint Xavier. It is one of our core values and something that is instilled into us as a necessary part of the discourse of learning and of living with one another. But it does not just mean respect with opinions in the class. When it comes to family, we must also be respectful of our family’s opinions. What’s the point of coming together as a family to have Thanksgiving if we are not willing to give each other mutual respect for our sometimes different perspectives in life. Respect goes both ways. But it should not be assumed or expected if one does not contribute to it as well. Often times, respect is expected automatically which is both right and wrong. You should have the courteousness and respect and not present yourself as a rude individual, but at the same time, the person receiving the respect should also make good and present themselves and conduct themselves as being worthy of said respect. But respect does not just mean to other people. It also is a way of living and appreciating the things we have. That’s why they call it Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is not just Turkey Day. And while the origins of Thanksgiving may not suit the pallid of some, the meaning behind it should. Too often do we forget the things that we have and lose our perspective in the world. We toss things we don’t use anymore in the trash and underappreciate both the things and the people in our lives. A healthy respect for the lucky things in our lives opens our eyes to not just what we have but also what others do not have. Volunteering at homeless shelters has opened my eyes to things I had already known. But they have kept my eyes fixed on these injustices and things we take for granted. There are so many people in the world, so many here in this country that do not have the things we have or the people in our lives. That is why when you’re around the table with your family, not just on Thanksgiving but on every occasion, take pause to be grateful for what you have and maybe give a little as well.