The death of Thanksgiving

Something scares me.

No, the people on my block who already have their Christmas lights up do not frighten me. Neither do the stores that have been featuring their holiday specials and Christmas decorations for the past few weeks. I’m not even that annoyed by what seems to be a “too early” form of holiday cheer.

There is one thing, however, that I’m a little scared of.

What happened to Thanksgiving?

In the past, we saw a general succession of holiday offers. Halloween promotions began as soon as Back to School sales were cleared out. Thanksgiving items sprouted up during the last week in October, overlapping with Halloween and thrust into the forefront as the stores dumped their leftover candy into the sale bins. Then, around the end of the first week of November, Christmas began its two-month-long trek.

This led to the ultimate pairing – Thanksgiving and the Day After. Thursday and Black Friday. A day of rest and a day of excess.

This year, we’ve lost Thanksgiving. Seriously – I’ve heard nothing about it.

Halloween ended and Christmas began. Black Friday ads have been popping up all over the Internet. Wal-Mart is already offering their Day after Thanksgiving sales. And we haven’t even eaten our turkey yet.

I always found Thanksgiving to be a welcome respite from the materialistic throes of Halloween and Christmas. It was a few weeks of rest, a necessary sabbatical that served to recharge my mind in preparation for the Christmas onslaught. You ate, you enjoyed your family, you realized how lucky you were, and then you prepared for holiday shopping.

On the day after Thanksgiving, you begin shopping for Christmas. On the day after Thanksgiving, you put up your lights, you garland your fence, and you begin baking cookies. On the day after Thanksgiving, you give in to the lure of holiday music and peppermint mochas.

This year, it’s all gone. We’ve had our peppermint already. We’ve discussed putting our lights up. We’re halfway done with shopping. We’ve jumped over Thanksgiving and started in on the cheer of Christmas.

Maybe we should take Thanksgiving back. Not for what it represents – a governmental fake holiday that was created to foster patriotic sentiment – but for what it used to be. We should consider it a time of rest. A respite. A sabbatical. Everything I mentioned before. Because if we don’t do that, we’ll lose it. We’ll watch our brightened beacon of anti-materialistic virtue – a lighthouse amidst a sea of shopping and candy and things and stuff and want-want-want – slowly become flooded, crumbling under the weight of consumerism.

There is a holiday between Halloween and Christmas. It’s called Thanksgiving. It means an extra day or two off. It means family and friends and it triggers the first round of remembrance for the past year. Don’t forget about it. It’s important, too.

Now, if you don’t mind, I have to finish ordering Christmas gifts on the Internet.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 14th, 2006