TALKING TO TEENS
So often parents complain about the ungratefulness of their teenagers; however, the teens I sat down and talked with about Thanksgiving appeared to be exceptions to that notion in that, not only were they very grateful for what their parents had done for them, but they praised them as well.
Ben, 17, a soon-to-be college freshman, who thinks very little of Thanksgiving as a holiday, said, “The one thing I’m thankful for is all the hard work my mother did to make me the success I am now in high school.” Ben thinks Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a holiday at all because of its history. “I think Thanksgiving is basically a day that comes and goes. It’s a day when people eat more than usual. The one thing I would change about Thanksgiving,” Ben said laughing, “is to have ham instead of Turkey because it’s good and most people don’t like Turkey.”
Most teens agree Thanksgiving is generally about eating, but they also gave great reasons for being thankful. Among the teens interviewed, all listed family as a high priority and reason for giving thanks.
Seventeen-year-old Leah, a high school senior and soon-to-be teen mother said although her pregnancy has been easy, “It has been a difficult year and having my family’s support has made it easier.” When asked how this Thanksgiving is different from last November, she said, “It’s better because I’ve grown up a lot this year. I’m making better decisions.” Leah says Thanksgiving should definitely be a holiday because of the history behind it. “It brings family together,” she added.
Debbi, still excited about recently becoming a teenager, said when she thinks about Thanksgiving, she thinks about family. “I think about how loving they are and how special they are,” she said. “I like Thanksgiving because I can thank God for doing what he did to bring us into the world.” Debbi, who had a lonely Thanksgiving last year, said this year will be better because her family will be together. “Last year,” she said, “I didn’t see my family because everyone was gone and had dinner somewhere else.”
Debbi believes Thanksgiving should definitely be a holiday “so people can give thanks to one another if they don’t want to do it during everyday life, so when people come together, they can think about their situations and thank everyone for what they did.”
When asked what one thing she would change about Thanksgiving if she could, Debbi said she would make it a rule that the oldest person in the family must prepare dinner for everyone else, who must then sit around and listen to stories about the family’s history.
Thirteen-year-old Dee Dee, Debbi’s best friend and running buddy, shares those sentiments and added she was very grateful for what her mother has done by “putting a roof over my head, giving me clothes and food to eat.”
Dee Dee said she is excited about Thanksgiving because this year there will be more family flying in. “We’re going to have a big dinner, and I’ll get to see my cousins; that will be fun,” she said.
Star, a 17-year-old artist and high school senior, said she is most grateful for the progress her family has made towards being closer. “I can tell we are making progress,” she said. “I can tell things are getting better. We’re smarter about what to say and how to protect ourselves from ourselves.” She also believes this year Thanksgiving is better because “I have learned a lot about how to handle a situation, such as regular family drama like when to put your foot down and not let your family walk all over you.”
What one thing would she change about Thanksgiving if she could? Star replied she would have it come around more often. “I would make it a once-a-month holiday,” she said. “Then you can get with your family, sit down, talk and eat. If you do that monthly, you can avoid a lot of family drama and understand each other better,” she added.
The teens all seemed to echo the same sentiments: an appreciation for family and friends. However, the real message they shared is that they are very much aware of what is going on in their lives and are grateful for many of the things adults often take for granted, such as family, health, food and shelter.
As all the teens seem to agree, Thanksgiving is a chance to share not only good food with family members, but good times as well.