What Has Happened to Thanksgiving?
Somewhere wedged between Halloween and Christmas, is a holiday on the last Thursday in November that is slowly starting to be overlooked. This day of giving thanks is being put on the back burner, so to speak. It seems as if November 1st hits, and BAM, Christmas! Even before Halloween is over, the Christmas decorations are showing up in stores everywhere. You’d be lucky if you could walk through the isles of your local supermarket and find any Thanksgiving décor. Why this rush for Christmas? Does no one hold this Thanksgiving holiday special anymore?
I for one love the Christmas season and usually start decorating for it well before Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean I don’t put an emphasis on the Thanksgiving holiday. I look forward to gathering with family, roasting a big ole turkey, and eating until I’m miserable. But, unlike Christmas, or even Halloween, the day of Thanksgiving seems to only last the one day. During the month of October, people spend days decorating, planning out the perfect costume, attending parties, and of course trick-or-treating. The Christmas season usually begins in the first few days of November for most people. They begin decorating the house, putting up the tree, shopping for the perfect gifts, and so much more. The festivities and spirit of the season last for months.
There is some speculation as to why Thanksgiving is being forgotten or pushed aside. Is it because there’s no mass market for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving just doesn’t offer the same appeal as other holidays. Take music for example. Halloween has Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or even the “Monster Mash”. During Christmas, you can scan radio stations and find that just about every other station is playing Christmas carols, such as the catchy “Jingle Bells”. But you’ll be hard pressed to find some Thanksgiving carols to baste that turkey to. The same goes for movies. There’s a plethora of scary movies for Halloween and numerous Christmas movies to get you in that holiday spirit. In my search to find a Thanksgiving movie, the results were limited.
Consumerism seems to overshadow the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Nowadays, stores push for Black Friday sales, which seem to start earlier and earlier every year. Now there’s pre-Black Friday deals, even Prime Days, or Christmas in July sales events. Instead of spending the Thanksgiving holiday creating lists of what to be grateful for, people are creating shopping lists and planning out which stores to hit up first. This has become a new holiday tradition.
Another possible cause of the slow overlooking of Thanksgiving is that we have so much these days, that we are quick to dismiss our gratitude. In the past, Thanksgiving was a day to truly stop and give thanks for all you had and to spend time with loved ones. It was a true celebration of thankfulness. Historically speaking, people didn’t own as much as one might these days. We have the latest phones, gaming consoles, big screen televisions, and just about anything else one could want. However, in the past, people didn’t always have the luxury of buying what they wanted whenever they wanted it. The focus was more on family and celebrating each other, or maybe the year’s harvest. With most everything literally at our fingertips, is it possible that we take things for granted?
Some prefer to skip the holiday, citing it’s not so accurate authenticity. Technically speaking, the first Thanksgiving that was held in 1621 as day to give thanks to the Pilgrim’s first successful harvest and was a time for the colonists and the Native Americans to come together. Some historians and people dispute this. Thanksgiving wasn’t declared a national holiday until 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War to give Americans a hope of peace during a treacherous time. Either way, Thanksgiving is a day that has always been intended to be a day to celebrate and give thanks.
For others, the Thanksgiving holiday can be a stressful time of year. Maybe they lack the funding to prepare a Thanksgiving feast. Maybe they are grieving the loss of a loved one and the day is a day of mourning instead of thankfulness. Maybe they are alone and don’t have the family to celebrate with. Or maybe they just choose to skip Thanksgiving for other reasons.
This year let’s throw Thanksgiving a bone and give it the recognition it truly deserves. While planning out your Thanksgiving menus, create a list of gratitude. Take the day to celebrate with your family and friends. Host a Thanksgiving dinner, or even a “friendsgiving”. Start or restart those long-forgotten family traditions of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, playing football, or watching your favorite team on tv, and stuffing yourself like the Butterball turkey. Create new traditions. Volunteer at local food banks serving others. Run a “turkey trot”.
If you’re like so many others, including myself, that already have those Christmas decorations up, I support that too! We can still make time for a day of giving thanks while looking forward to the Christmas season. If you and your family look forward to Black Friday shopping, I support that too (because sales are good!). If you need a few Thanksgiving movies to watch, I recommend “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “Free Birds”. And if you’re looking for something to sing while basting the turkey there’s always Bing Crosby’s “Something to Be Thankful For” or Adam Sandler’s “Thanksgiving Song”. My Thanksgiving wish is that everyone who reads this has something to be thankful for this year. Enjoy your day, however you choose.