Don’t Forget Thanksgiving

November 17, 2016

My favorite holiday is on the horizon. If you immediately think of Christmas, you’re completely wrong. I love the simplicity and comfort of Thanksgiving. During a time of extreme division and animosity between so many different segments of our nation’s population, we need this day to come together — not for religious purposes, not to share gifts, but to eat, drink, be merry, and share our gratitude for each other and for all that we have.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas, but I’m saddened that consumerism and greed are tarnishing the greatness of Thanksgiving, all under the guise of Christmas. Unfortunately, our new Thanksgiving tradition is to skip out on board games, movies, and other family activities, and instead opt to leave shortly after dinner in order to get a good spot in line outside of a department store. Once the doors are unlocked, we swarm inside like an unruly mob, sometimes screaming, trampling, and literally throwing punches, all in order to…shop.

I understand that times are tough for many of us and that there are good deals to be had, but there has to be more to it. I believe many people think they are happier when they are spending money or, more specifically, shopping. There’s a certain sportsmanship and one-upmanship that’s involved with shopping, especially on Thanksgiving. It’s a primal hunt for the best deal, followed by a desire to beat one’s chest and howl in triumph (or at least post on Facebook about how awesome it was). It’s a societal change that is the result of unbelievably successful marketing. Thanksgiving shoppers may be getting good deals, but it is actually corporate America that is really winning — just as they’ve strategically planned. There’s a reason that Christmas marketing starts the day after Halloween. Thanksgiving just doesn’t sell well. Corporate greed trickles down and unknowingly becomes the greed of the consumer. Meanwhile, retail workers — people making $8-$10 an hour — are being forced away from their families to deal with the madness as they simultaneously help line corporate pockets. But, hey, it’s all for Christmas…

My beef really isn’t with Christmas or capitalism, it’s with American consumers. In a time when we bitch and moan far too much, when our possessions define us, when our politics divide us, can’t we take one full day to be grateful for what we already have? Let’s reverse the trend of diminishing the importance of our country’s first holiday. Let’s stop shopping on Thanksgiving or even at the stroke of midnight on Friday. Let’s spend time with our family. The gifts you’re buying don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things (in fact, if you look in your children’s closets, you’ll probably find some unopened toys from last Christmas). However, our kids will quickly grow up and start their own families, and our elders will eventually leave this world. The best gift we have is time with our family. The appreciation of which is also one of the best gifts we can pass on to our youth.

I read a quote once — I’m not sure where it originated — that said something like: “It’s not happy people who are thankful, but rather thankful people who are happy.” We have plenty of time to shop before Christmas. Let’s put Thanksgiving back on the pedestal it deserves. Let’s carry on a tradition that began in 1621 when immigrant and native families shared food, stories, and gratitude. Let’s preserve the best holiday of all, Thanksgiving.

(By the way, this also means no Christmas decorations until Thanksgiving is over. Please and thank you.)