How to spend Thanksgiving in Tennessee

Autumn is a favorite season for many, with warm sunny days and cool nights and trees showing their red and yellow leaves. Appropriately, it is time for one of Americans’ favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. The story of Thanksgiving traditionally recalls how a Native American, Squanto, and his friends helped lost Pilgrims to hunt, fish, gather food safely, and raise native crops. In November 1621, the Pilgrims, led by William Bradford, invited the local Wampanoag tribe to share in a feast celebrating a successful first year in their new land. There is some debate on whether this was the first “Thanksgiving” in the new country. Various leaders through the years declared days for Americans to give thanks and sometimes states would designate a day of thanksgiving, each on their own day. Finally, in 1863 President Lincoln formalized a date for the entire country ( Today, we Americans gather with our families and most of us will have a large meal featuring turkey and stuffing. Corn, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie are also traditionally on menu. If you are able to spend Thanksgiving Day with a host family you could expect to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in the morning, volunteer at a shelter, eat a large meal, take a nap, watch football, and eat leftovers all evening. With a focus on relaxing with family and friends, Thanksgiving is an informal American holiday. People also love Thanksgiving because just taking time to be grateful makes people happier, says Harvard Medical School.

But wait, this is just the calm before the storm! While some family members were napping or watching the game, the other half were scouring the newspaper for sales and coupons. Sometime in the last two decades or so, the day after Thanksgiving has become known as Black Friday. Across the country stores open their doors early to mobs of people fighting to get the hottest items before they are sold out. TV crews and journalists come out to report on the crowds and interview shoppers. If you enjoy shopping, check out these top 10 shopping malls in Tennessee. Not wanting to be left out of this marketing bandwagon, smaller retailers have branded the next day “Small Business Saturday.” Customers are encouraged to browse boutiques and local or family-owned businesses. Increasingly, Tennesseans see “shopping locally” as a way to help their neighbors and invest tax dollars in their own communities. This is where you want to go for souvenirs with “local flavor.” If you didn’t find that perfect gift this weekend, never fear; there is always Cyber Monday! According to Mirror, crowd-weary shoppers can leisurely compare a wider range of fashion deals online. Last, but not least, we come to the end of the named days, #GivingTuesday. #GivingTuesday is a social movement to encourage people around the world, not just the United States, to help others through charities or community service projects. Tennessee campuses are great places to get involved with groups that are doing a service project. You will experience the meaning of the phrase “better to give than receive.” And that is something to be grateful for.