by Gary Carter
first published Nov. 1998
Thanksgiving is dead! Long live Christmas! The gods of commerce called for the head of Thanksgiving, one of America’s most important and original holidays, long ago — and the greedy, consuming public obliged.
We put aside giving thanks and bringing family together in order to take advantage of paltry discounts at the local department store. Forget the turkey and dressing, pass me the sales papers. It is amazing that we need three months to prepare for a one-day holiday. Now I can see you need a little extra shopping time for Hanukkah, since that lasts several days. But Christmas is just one day. And any way, it’s not about buying gifts, is it?
I’m not sure anymore, it’s been so long since anyone has shown me the true meaning of Christmas. I’m still trying to hold on to November being the Thanksgiving month. You know, telling the family you’re having the meal at your home, warming up the oven the night before for the turkey and dressing, getting the cranberry sauce ready, cleaning the house, and breaking out the photo albums. The grandparent would say the prayer before the meal, the family would eat and share stories. Dad would unbutton his britches and head for the couch. The football game would be blaring in the back. And for one day, all misunderstandings and squabbles would be put aside and the family would give thanks for what they had.
But things started to change about a decade ago. The Christmas season started a little earlier one year; then earlier the next year; then earlier. And before you know it, after you put away the Halloween candy, boom — out come the Christmas decorations.
The second day of November, as I made my way to the grocery store, I actually saw some people in my neighborhood putting up their Christmas trees. I almost wrecked. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t get my window down fast enough to yell, “It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!” Oh, the Pilgrims are probably spinning in their graves. But what are you going to do? Since this country lives and dies by the mighty dollar, you can’t change the direction commerce has taken our holiday spirit. But you can’t give in either.
How about reminding those around you about Thanksgivings past? If someone tells you in November to have a happy holiday say, “Thanks, and you have a great THANKSGIVING too.”
Above all, just don’t forget what our early settlers meant when they invited the Native Americans over for that festival of food and camaraderie centuries ago. And what was the meaning of that first Thanksgiving? If you don’t know by now, I guess you better get to that Christmas sale at the mall. Hurry, you only have 35 days until Christmas.