There’s plenty to be thankful for this year

It is not any professor’s fault, but I’m having a hard time concentrating on classes right now. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and thoughts of sleeping in, catching a few football rivalries and the promise of gorging myself on too much food is something to look forward to. So it feels only proper to do my part in expressing thanks.

I’m certainly thankful for my family and my health, but this year I’m especially thankful for the end of the midterm elections. Who could have guessed I would long for the repetitive jingle of the “Head On” commercials after a mind-numbing number of ads ending in “and I approve this message”? Regardless of whether you approve of the election results, this time of year calls for a little less partisan bickering and name-calling. This thankfulness is tempered only by the realization that apparently everyone is posturing for a run for president in 2008. And, oh, by the way – they are starting to campaign now.

This year there is also thankfulness for the lack of desire to be involved in any “Black Friday” frenzy. Unfortunately, shopping must now be added to the country’s list of recognized religions. The new mantra should be “forget the good cheer and spirit of giving unless we are giving to ourselves.” Lines of individuals camping out for the newest video game – or Web sites that provide a peek at after-Thanksgiving sales – further solidify the extent of the commercialization of this culture. Somehow the potential to be assaulted or shot waiting for a great deal doesn’t appeal to me.

And lest I forget, thanks are in order for a semester as a student exchange participant at the University of Connecticut. The opportunity to study at a school with a 125-year tradition while paying USF tuition was hard to pass up. The experience has been well worth the travel to an area of the country where furnaces and snow plows outnumber beach chairs and bottles of suntan lotion. Different perspectives from faculty, great guest lecturers and, of course, nice amenities have made it a fun and fast semester. It is an experience every undergraduate should undertake.

Not meant to be near the bottom of the list is thanks for the ability to work toward and, hopefully in December, complete an undergraduate degree. With the rising financial burden of attending even public universities, the reality is that many talented students won’t ever get the opportunity to be a student athlete, get involved in student activism or partake in groundbreaking research. Although higher education should be more of a choice than imperative, too many individuals won’t ever be afforded the opportunity that students have today.

Now that my time at USF is close to an end, I would be remiss if there wasn’t an expression of thanks for the ability to write more than 80 columns for the newspaper. Although some students might just call me way too opinionated, writing about current events, politics and the USF administration has always been more about an exchange of ideas to me than a one-way, shove-it-down-your-throat mentality. Challenging, questioning and calling out ideas is the only way for change, both in print media and the world around us.

So spend your Thanksgiving participating in those activities that are the most enjoyable. Remember, there is much to be thankful for, even if your list tends to be more cynical, nuanced or eclectic than mine. And bear in mind that if you are trampled getting into a store on “Black Friday,” you can’t say you weren’t warned.

Aaron Hill is a senior majoring in economics.