Turkey’s great, but it’s time to focus on what really matters | TheUnion.com

Turkey’s great, but it’s time to focus on what really matters

Nov, 28 is the holiday that most people associate with turkey, pumpkin pie, Pilgrims and horns of plenty. Some people see it more as a chance to eat until they are stuffed than as a holiday that is based around reflection and gratitude.

Thanksgiving is when we are supposed to think about the things in our life that really matter. It’s a time to forget about the recent election and dirty campaigning and how intolerant everyone seems of others with different political views. It’s a time to stop worrying about which NFL team is the best. It’s a time to realize what is truly important in our lives and to be grateful for those things that make our lives worth living.

This Thanksgiving I’m going to put aside my homework and typical teenage attitude about not having time to spend with my family. I’m not going to complain about the weather or how cold my room is. I’m not going to turn on the television and watch the depressing news stories. I’m not even going to read the newspaper’s Opinion page because I don’t want to see the negative letters to the editor that appear there without fail every day. I’m going to forget about what I could be doing and focus on what I should be doing. What I should be doing is giving God thanks for two of the most important parts of my life with which he has blessed me.

Two of the greatest treasures I have are my family and friends. All my life, my family has been there for me, no matter how trivial or idiotic my pursuits may seem. For example, when they saw that I had put a skateboard on my Christmas list this year, they didn’t tell me that mixing me with a skateboard was a frightening idea and a danger to every person, including myself. Instead, they smiled and asked if I was prepared to spend a lot of time visiting the emergency room.

My family didn’t tell me all negative things about my gift idea or act as if I had never asked for it, which was very nice of them. True, they made a few jokes about it, but they acted like they somewhat understood my request. In other words, they were doing what they have never failed to do: supporting me.

My mother and father have always been behind me, never failing to provide me with encouragement and a healthy dose of parental caution. They ask only that I try my hardest and do work of which I am proud, and they have raised me with ethics that make me proud of who I am. My sisters constantly give me reasons to be grateful they are around, even if they do things as little as making sure that the bathroom is stocked with towels before I go in and take my shower. Everyone else in my family – grandmothers, uncles, aunts, cousins and other relatives – have also given me support. They trust me to make decisions for myself and to choose a path that will lead me to a successful future. Without my family, both immediate and extended, I would be nothing.

The other driving force in my life are my friends. They see me in all of my best moments, the good and the bad. Whether I’m pretending to bite someone because she reached across my lunch one time too many, crying because I’m laughing so hard, or tripping over ideas I’m trying so hard to put into words, my friends are there when I need them. They encourage me to follow my dreams by reading my writing, listening to my singing, and soothing the fears I have about my future. They give me back rubs at perfect times, they make me laugh when I’m ready to snap from high stress levels, and they remind me that my life is the greatest thing in the world. No matter what, they let me be myself. They don’t try to force me to do anything, and they respect me for refusing to change when other people tell me to. It’s a blessing to have friends who support me so unanimously. There is always someone I can go to, and they are always standing by. My friends treat our relationship as a true friendship, not a business transaction. They give without any thought of reward.

For some, this Thanksgiving might be the time to go back to basics and think about what really matters. Maybe that shirt you got into a fight over with your parents really isn’t something you just can’t live without. Maybe speeding while you drive so you get to work early isn’t as important as the 3-year-old you have waiting for you at home. Maybe we should try writing kudos to the newspaper as a change from letters that focus on negative issues. Maybe we should give thanks and treat life as it was meant to be treated: preciously.

Meredith Blake, a 16-year-old Grass Valley resident, is a junior at Nevada Union High School. She writes a monthly column. Write her in care of Youth Page, The Union, 464 Sutton Way, 95945, or at

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