Thanksgiving Day is over, and the Christmas season has begun — right out of the gate Friday morning (no, Thursday afternoon!) with Black Friday shopping sprees, Cyber Monday sales, and our token #GivingTuesday. The National Retail Federation estimates record spending over the weekend amounted to as much as $720 billion.
For college students, the temptation to jettison gratitude with the Christmas season is doubly present: Besides the bells and whistles of holiday consumerism, we have finals and papers and, here at Hillsdale, Hell Week and cold weather all at once.
We’ll want to complain a lot more than we give thanks. But that’s a sorry way to spend these last three weeks of the semester — which should be as much a season of thanksgiving as before.
The biggest, and noblest, challenge ahead of us isn’t to finish papers and ace finals; it’s to put others first and keep giving thanks, in the midst of all the work.
Your #GivingTuesday donation won’t cut it. Thanksgiving is a way of living, and it’s selfless. It’s choosing a fruitful conversation over Netflix to abate your stress; it’s ringing the Salvation Army bell when you could be studying; it’s sacrificing sleep to fulfill a commitment. There’s no excuse to stop loving your neighbor before yourself, even when your self-esteem is at a grade-induced low.
Hillsdale students have plenty to be grateful for, and generally, we’re aware of that. We devoted a whole “Day of Thanks” to writing cards in gratitude. We work hard because we do, deep down, appreciate education. Even the dozens of Christmas parties crowding the calendar this time of year are a testament to our delight in the things we do and the friends we have here on campus.
Don’t lose sight of that these next few weeks. The struggle is real, but keep it in perspective. The Christmas season should remind us, if anything, that our hope is in something more foundational than a grade or even a degree. That is something to be grateful for, joyfully so, indeed.
So give your time away these next few weeks, and keep your chin up. It’ll be a much merrier season if you remember to keep giving thanks.