Walk into a store in any part of the nation and eight out of ten times you will find a section up and decorated for Christmas. There will be Christmas lights and ornaments for sale. There will be readily decorated trees for one to take in. Some stores will even begin to play some tentative Christmas carols. None of the above is bad, except for one thing. We just celebrated Halloween and have not yet celebrated Thanksgiving.
What About Thanksgiving?
Every November on a certain Thursday of the month, families gather together for a very festive and filling meal. Often this meal is one of turkey, sweet potatoes and stuffing. Families gather to share this meal, maybe watch some football, but mostly just be together.
Thanksgiving is a holiday without presents, without TV specials, and without a lot of hype. It is a holiday designed to help society step back, gather family, be thoughtful about what they are grateful for and to celebrate all the good things that exist in their lives.
It is ironic however, that entering the stores a few days after Halloween people are greeted by sounds of Christmas and all its trappings, instead of anything that might have to do with Thanksgiving. If a person is looking for a few simple decorations to make their thanksgiving holiday table special, they often must seach far and wide to find even a tablecloth or a placement.
Is Thanksgiving Just Not Enough for our Consuming Society?
Thanksgiving is in danger of becoming a forgotten holiday as we jump from Halloween to Christmas. One possible reason is that Thanksgiving by its very nature flies in the face of the rampant consumerism that society adheres to. On Thanksgiving we don’t exchange presents, or have party after party for weeks before and after to celebrate it.
The social attitude toward Christmas is one of the bigger the better, whether that be the tree, the presents or the party. Social custom for Thanksgiving is one of extended family, good food, and awareness of gratitude. Pure and simple, Thanksgiving doesn’t sell as well as Christmas, Even Halloween involves the “right” costume and getting candy.
Thanksgiving isn’t really about getting anything. It is about caring for one another and celebrating the gratitude we feel in our lives. In this world many would suggest that there is little to be grateful for, but others might say that if each person looks deeply, he or she can find something to grateful for. Unfortunately that sentiment doesn’t sell anything. For that reason it constantly totters on the endangered holiday list.
A lot of Nothing
Retailers don’t stand to gain much by Thanksgiving, except if they are in the food and wine business. Traveling is big, but traveling has never been thought of as the big tease of a holiday like Christmas gifts or Easter baskets. Many retailers don’t even give their staff off on Thanksgiving, but rather close the store and bring in people to put the final push into the Christmas swing. It is sad that we are in danger of forgetting to be grateful in the push of Christmas consuming.
Thanksgiving as a holiday begs for reflection. it is an invitation to stop, pause and reflect on one’s life. It is a reminder of past history in the legends surrounding the beginnings of the United States and an opportunity to take one day to think about all that one has, not just in material goods, but in life overall.
We have much to be grateful for even on a gloomy day. Look around this years Thanksgiving table and notice, really notice the friends, the family, the food and the cheer. Even if you share a tiny dinner with one loved one it is still a celebration when looked at and through another’s eyes. It is also an opportunity to remember and realize that there are those who cannot celebrate, not because their countries don’t have such a holiday, but rather because they are homeless, starving or alone. For many the forgotten thanksgiving doesn’t lead to a consuming Christmas. Rather it leads to loneliness, sadness and for some even depression at their circumstances in life.
What’s the Rush?
This Thanksgiving why not try to savor the holiday and its meaning? Don’t start the Christmas cards or sort the Christmas decorations. Try to be really present to the myths, legends and meaning of being grateful. Attend to that gratitude, preparing the food, setting the table, and sharing the day with whomever graces your table.
Don’t think ahead to Christmas, think in the now. Be mindful of the new baby born, or the new friend made or even the crispness of the fall day. Don’t get pulled into forgetting Thanksgiving just because Christmas is looming. Give Thanksgiving its due; there is something to be grateful for.