Going beyond Thanksgiving

By The Beacon | November 7, 2013 2:44am

By Cassie Sheridan |

It seems every November my social media becomes backlogged with individuals posting a daily tidbit of something in their life they are thankful for - a dog, a sister, a father or pumpkin spice lattes.  This challenge of thankful expression culminates on Thanksgiving Day in an enormous and gluttonous feast surrounded by family, friends, dogs and pumpkin spice lattes. I’m not against the social media expression. In fact, I find the idea of thinking critically for at least five minutes everyday about the things in our lives to be thankful for unbelievably positive. I just wish it didn’t end.

I am not asserting that people don’t recognize their privilege, I just don’t think it is recognized enough.  We all (and I am as guilty as you) complain and gripe about impossible papers, colds, P-Safe, girl-to-guy ratios and bad lattes.  We “hate” the Internet on campus and we “hate” that professor - you know, the one that had a test or assignment due the Friday after Halloween.

I know what you’re thinking: “Another diatribe about first world problems and how privileged we are, and how we can’t complain about anything.” To this I respond yes … and no. Of course you can gripe about the injustice of 8:10 a.m. exams and how it takes 15 minutes to print something off in the library, which is in fact ridiculous, I am right there with you. However, after you have exhausted the subject, you should move on and recognize you are blessed to sit there at all.  I am not discounting our problems as insignificant. They are our problems, and they seem as big or small as we make them. But once we have vocalized the injustice of pumpkin flavors only existing in October, it is time to move on, especially because red Christmas cups are back.

I don’t want individuals to only think critically about their blessings for one month a year and then feast on them while watching football. A world in which our newsfeeds are full of cuddly cats and amazing mothers is far better than one of complaints. We should all work on having the positive conversations outweigh the negative ones, because the trend of being thankful should not just be a trend.

I am practicing this, just as you are.  I have been ungrateful, spiteful and far too angry about insignificant nothings on a daily basis.  Instead of acting as if my privilege does not exist, I am trying to embrace it. So yes, I am unbelievably privileged and beyond thankful for everything in my life, from the ability to purchase a latte every morning to having a grandma that sends me magazine clippings in the mail; I am blessed.

Now, I recognize I will still gripe about my workload, slow Internet on campus, tab indents on Microsoft Word and gravity-defying rain that slants into my face.  However, I will try to smile through it instead of shaking my fist at the universe. In a world ravaged daily by injustices, the least we can do is maintain positivity when we spill our coffee all over ourselves, despite how unjust it may feel.

So this November, keep the trend going past Thanksgiving.  While you sip the underappreciated gingerbread latte, take note of your blessings all the way into 2014 and have the positive conversations outweigh the negative ones.

Cassie Sheridan is a junior English major. She can be reached at sheridan15@up.edu.