“Let Thanksgiving live!”
That has been my rallying cry for the last few weeks and months. Over the years, Thanksgiving has been de-emphasized as more and more emphasis has been placed on Christmas shopping. Merchants have been running Christmas sales earlier and earlier each year. Comedian Lewis Black, who is Jewish, said a few years ago, “When does Christmas start now, July 7th? How long does it take you people to shop?” He said later in that same rant, “You young people don’t know this – so ask your parents – but Thanksgiving used to be its own holiday… It used to be a day where people ate and drank and fell asleep. And at no time did anyone wake us up and say, ‘Let’s go shopping’.”
The shopping craze is great evidence that the Bible is spot-on in comparing humans to sheep, which are easily the stupidest animals God ever created. If one sheep breaks from the herd, the rest will follow it, even if that breakaway sheep walks off a cliff. Humans display similar behavior at times. In the holiday season, the breakaway sheep is advertising for Christmas shopping. Humans have responded as the advertisers hope, actually breaking away from the family Thanksgiving festivities to go line up at all kinds of shopping establishments to make sure they are first in line to get whatever hot items the advertisers have been screaming that we can’t possibly live without.
In my family, Thanksgiving has always been the primary gathering holiday. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, most of my family, both Mom’s and Dad’s side, were primarily in the Dayton, OH area, so there would be plenty of Christmas gatherings too, but Thanksgiving was always the one with 100% attendance. Since then, as my generation grew up and the grandparents passed on, we have been scattered to the 4 corners of the country. My parents, aunts & uncles, siblings and cousins can be found in Alaska, Georgia, Tennessee, New Mexico, the Carolinas, and a select few still in Ohio. We don’t gather as a group every year any longer, but when we do, it’s almost always for Thanksgiving. As of this year, all of my grandparents are now gone, and the memory bank is quite full of those holiday gatherings, and they have been coming forward as this holiday season approached. Of course there was the fabulous food. There were also the classic battles for the remote control between the sports fans that wanted to watch football and the non-sports fans that wanted to watch some 1950’s movie on the channel that didn’t have any football. What fun!
And yes, there would be some shopping on Friday, but not like it is these days. We would not even plan out where we wanted to go until Friday morning, and we definitely weren’t cutting short the family fellowship on Thanksgiving Day to go get in line at some mall or department store.
In the old days, Christmas had a special twist in my Dad’s family. One of my cousins was born on December 26. Never wanting to have her suffer having her birthday and Christmas lumped together while the rest of us got all the attention on our birthdays, her parents always wanted to make a big deal out of her birthday. There would usually be some shopping / gift returns early that day (talk about great clearance sales), but everyone would make their way back to Grandma Edgar’s house for a party dedicated to Kelli. Now that just about every one of my generation is in our 40s, we harass her about those special days sometimes. I must say the strategy worked – Kelli is a great lady of sound mind, has a wonderful family of her own, and has been the Thanksgiving host a number of times.
This year, my wife & I are staying home for Thanksgiving, and for the first time, I’m going to try to cook a whole turkey and fix all the other stuff. There’s just 2 of us, so I’ll be eating Thanksgiving leftovers for at least a week, but that’s fine by me. Last year I was just about to undergo weight loss surgery and was on a 100% liquid diet for Thanksgiving. This year, I’m 90 pounds lighter and will be full after a small plate of food. But I will enjoy it more after having to take a pass last year, and I’ll enjoy the leftovers long after my wife is completely sick of them.
We have had a tough year, with her multiple new health issues, me transitioning from corporate life to business owner, and currently the business is not doing well. The original Thanksgiving of the settlers and Native Americans feels more real to me – we feel quite fortunate considering all the hardships we have dealt with and are still dealing with. This reinforces Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday. We intend to savor it.
We’ll put the Christmas tree up next week.