I look forward to Thanksgiving every year. It is strange because a lot of people just view Thanksgiving as the holiday before Christmas. To me, however, Thanksgiving holds a lot of meaning. I see it as a time filled with love and tradition. I like to embrace this holiday instead of blowing past it. I see it as a great way to reconnect with family and friends you have not seen in a while. From friend celebrations such as Friendsgiving, or to the actual day of Thanksgiving, I take it all in. For me, it is a comforting holiday. It reminds me to be thankful for all that I have. It also reminds me that I have so many people who love me and are there for me. 

Thanksgiving is also not a one-day thing for me. I see it more as a four-day bender. On Wednesday I celebrate a Friendsgiving with my friends from home. We usually do a potluck dinner, and I bring mac and cheese. I cherish those moments with my friends since I don’t see them often now. I tend to laugh the hardest with them. We reminisce on the memories of high school and the people we went to school with. We stay up the whole night just taking in these moments together because in just a few days we will be back on our separate ways. 

The next day is Thanksgiving, which means a day filled with familial traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. I wake up to the smell of Thanksgiving food being prepared. The savory turkey scent mixed with the sweet aroma of the homemade cranberry sauce excite me for the day. I walk downstairs to see my dad putting on a movie we have watched every Thanksgiving since I could remember. It is called “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” (also known as “Babes in Toyland”) from 1934. 

Basically, the film is about these two men who work for a toy maker and their feud with the evil Silas Barnaby, who is a crooked landlord. There are a lot of popular nursery rhyme characters featured in the movie such as Little Bo Peep, the Three Little Pigs, Mother Goose and more. Mickey Mouse is even in it! Every year my family and I sit down and watch it. When I was younger I used to throw a fit about it because I wanted to watch the parade and not this old movie. I was also a little terrified of it. 

As I grew older I began to appreciate the movie a little more. I saw how important it was to my dad that we all watched it, as it was something he did in his childhood. The story behind this tradition is simple. Every year on Thanksgiving “March of the Wooden Soldiers” was aired on TV on channel 11 in New York. My dad grew up watching this movie every Thanksgiving. 

He continued this tradition with my sister and me. Knowing how much meaning this tradition has, I continue to sit down and watch this movie every year. I can always watch reruns of the parade. After the movie, my family starts to arrive. Usually, a lot of people come over every year. I love seeing everyone and catching up with them. Every year I am reminded of how thankful I am for my family. 

I fill up on a ton of food but save room for dessert. I can always save space for some of my aunt’s chocolate pudding pie. I end the day by relaxing near the warm fireplace and watching a Christmas movie to ring in the new season. I am one of those people that views Thanksgiving as the start of Christmas, rather than Nov. 1. 

The next day I go out to dinner with my closest friends from elementary school. These girls have been by my side for years, and I am so thankful for that. It is a new tradition that we go to our favorite Spanish restaurant and fill up on delicious food. We spend the evening sharing old memories and new stories about our lives. It makes me so thankful for the years we have spent together as friends. On Saturday to round out the busy week, my family goes Christmas tree shopping. At home, we decorate the house and ring in the new holiday season. I always look forward to this day. 

I believe traditions make holidays special. It brings a new meaning to what you are celebrating. I look at Thanksgiving as a way to celebrate the people in your life and the traditions you have with them. Every family has their own unique traditions, it is what makes a family so special. Next time you think “oh, this is so weird and boring” about something your family does every year, think about what it means to someone else. It is how I changed my perspective on watching that movie. Enjoy this time with your loved ones, and have a Happy Thanksgiving this year.

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