Northwest Missourian Opinion

It’s that special time of the year where everybody is either irritated with premature Christmas music or preparing to celebrate for the correct upcoming holiday, Thanksgiving. Either way, decorations and music are the least important reason for the season. The most important part of any holiday is being with family and loved ones.

The pandemic has made it increasingly difficult to see loved ones, and this year is no different. If anything, it’s getting harder. However, this year, the vaccine has given numerous families the option to once again sit around that lengthy table with more food than it should probably bear. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, vaccinated or not, you should take this upcoming week to appreciate and spend time with your family.

My family has made the most amazing impact on my life, and they continue to push me to be a better man every day. This semester has been difficult for me, so going home to make little turkeys made of cookies and candy corn to honor our late grandmother sounds like the highlight of my year.

Unfortunately, many students won’t have the luxury I do. International students could possibly be stuck in Maryville for a week with nothing to do, or domestic students might not have a strong enough connection with their family to go home and enjoy family traditions. This doesn’t mean these students have to be suffering.

In the past, my family has invited close friends who weren’t fortunate enough to celebrate with their loved ones to come celebrate at the Smith household. Some of those years were definitely awkward for my siblings and I because we rarely knew the adults occupying our chair at the table. It was never that we didn’t want them in our house; we just weren’t comfortable with them partaking in such an intimate celebration.

Looking back on it, I’m glad my parents had the loving heart to prepare an extra plate and open their home to someone who didn’t have anywhere to celebrate. I think more people should do the same.

I know too many people who feel unsafe when they’re home or simply have nowhere to go. I encourage anybody to reach out to these people and offer them a family to join during the holiday season. It’s been a difficult year and a half for everybody on Earth. Offering just a small gift of companionship can go a long way at a time like this.

Looking out for the well-being of others is a daunting task; I know this from personal experience. However, the reward is well worth the awkwardness you assume you’re going to have. There’s a different sense of warmth felt after putting a smile on somebody’s face or knowing that they were able to feel wanted. This warmth shouldn’t be your motivating factor, but the happiness given to somebody else should be.

Fostering a sense of belonging is one of the key parts of holidays. It’s why the holiday season is often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year. Okay, I don’t know if that’s true, but it feels right, right?

If you have a chance to give somebody a better holiday experience this year, take the chance. If not, spend time with people that cherish you, and enjoy it. That’s really what this season is about.

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