Teens and our thanksgivings
Somehow between the shift from the previous generation to the current, the idea of Thanksgiving has seemed to lose meaning in everyday life. Things such as the “brand-spankin’ new” technologies – iPods, cellphones, video games – are seen to be the only things that teens are grateful for ... or is it?
At a closer look, perhaps these materialistic objects are not as important to us as they seem. Could it be that these items are not as meaningful as family, friends, and relationships? At Live Oak High school, this last question has proven itself to be true.
“I’m thankful that my family is truly good and safe,” senior Lupe Chavez stated simply. This is rightly said for, around this same time a few years back, Chavez lost some of her family members. So, the simple fact that such a tragedy has not happened since is a true thanksgiving to her.
On the other end of the spectrum, Micheal Catbagin, a junior at LOHS, has another thing to be thankful for. “I’m thankful that we are a pretty small community, very close-knit, so we all know each other,” he said.
“I’m thankful for the staff and the teachers and how they interact with us students,” explained Mishu Gulati, a senior. On the same note, senior Mariah Moody said she is “thankful for the size of our classes, because it’s more personal. And I adore the teachers here. I like that when you need help you can go to them; it’s a very personal learning experience.”
Not once did students reply that they were thankful for cars or shoes or any other material possession; the replies were much more satisfying.
One such reply, perhaps the most fearless and open thanksgiving to be said, was that which came from senior Victor Ziranda.
His younger brother struggled with muscular dystrophy since his birth. This condition is when the muscles do not develop correctly as a baby. Ziranda’s brother went through many surgeries for six years. “But he never gave up,” he said.
“He always had a smile on his face,” Ziranda said. “It made me realize that everything in life should be happy. Even though at times you feel lost and hopeless, there is always a reason to strive and become successful – not for yourself, but for others.”
A year ago, Ziranda lost his younger brother. “Even though (the death) still hurts me today, I strive to succeed and hopefully one day will be able to help kids like my brother and families like mine.”
This event has given this senior more to be thankful for than he could ever imagine.
I believe that Ziranda is not the only teen to have a story like this. It is surprising sometimes how many people do not give adolescents the benefit of the doubt when it comes to anything that has to do with selflessness. You would be surprised at just how real a teen can get when you take the time to ask true, serious questions and wait patiently for the answer.
Thus my challenge is as follows: Ask us teens what we are thankful for this Thanksgiving. Additionally, remember to ask the same question upon yourself. Do not be satisfied with a materialistic answer.
Jacqueline Mullen is a senior at Live Oak High School. Her column appears every six weeks in Education.