Thanksgiving is one of those inconspicuous, innocuous holidays most people take for granted, much as we take for granted the very things for which we should be thankful.
Wedged between six weeks of Halloween and at least three months of Christmas, the entire Thanksgiving celebration takes only about 24 hours, from bake to belch. Once the dishes are washed and leftovers refrigerated, it’s on to the more commercial concerns of Christmas shopping. Sundown on Thanksgiving is essentially the checkered flag of the Christmas retail race – “Gentleman, start your gold cards!”
When I was a child, Thanksgiving was a pretty big deal. Of course, that was before the age of immediate gratification. Despite the onset of the space age, in the 1960s, we were still a society conditioned to wait for all good things. Consequently, Halloween occurred exactly on October 31 – not for the three preceding weekends. Thanksgiving was THE “holiday of the month” for November, and not until and only after Thanksgiving did we even seriously think about Christmas. I am pretty sure it was not until the 1980s that the human eye had ever even beheld a Jack-o-lantern and Christmas tree displayed together in a retail setting.
I’m not sure how it came to this. It seems we are but innocent consumer victims of a retail revolution in seasonal celebrations. Clearly, Thanksgiving just needs a better p.r. agency – or maybe it could use a novel pitch man, like the Geiko gecko or something.
My guess is Thanksgiving is just too basic and non-glitzy, like the very values it represents: home, family, good health, good food, freedom, and gratitude. This Thursday in November is simply a day to sit down together with loved ones and enjoy those blessings. It’s really not very commercial, and certainly not sensational – not the stuff of which retail profits and headlines are made. It is baking, basting, and broiling; turkey, television, and travel.
Yet, aside from football games and good food, Thanksgiving gives us at least 24 hours to count our blessings and say thank you. And to the cynic who would argue that it doesn’t take long to count his blessings, try this: Count all the things you don’t have that you don’t want. It’s food for thought.