Thanksgiving: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John Kennedy
I’m worried about Thanksgiving this year. It is being treated like a second-class citizen, bookended by Halloween on one end of the holiday season and Christmas on the other.
I mean, the big box stores had already begun to erect the sparkling, fake Christmas trees before the Halloween candy was off the shelves, such is the importance of driving revenue from holiday sales.
Halloween generates $9 billion in spending, Christmas closer to $1 trillion. Thanksgiving isn’t even in the picture, unless you count Black Friday’s $20 billion in sales. But you can’t. Thanksgiving is over. It’s strictly leftovers by then.
Thanksgiving traditionally kicked off the “holiday season,” but even the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade isn’t so much about Thanksgiving as it is about Christmas. Consider the parade’s main attraction: Santa, of course.
Even though it is a national holiday, Thanksgiving has been undermined by alternative messages. Are most people engaged in giving thanks or watching football? Are the grandkids getting a full measure of how and why Thanksgiving began, or is the focus on upcoming Christmas holiday events?
I’m starting to feel sorry for Tom Turkey. His role has been marginalized by forces beyond his control.
And if the Halloween/Christmas squeeze wasn’t enough, what about the political forces that have been felt in recent years?
The National Day of Mourning, for example, takes the view that Americans shouldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving at all but instead condemn it because of the treatment that colonists meted out to American Indians. Organized by American Indians in New England, it is observed on the fourth Thursday of November, the same day as Unthanksgiving Day in San Francisco.
Not all American Indians agree, and some celebrate the traditional Thanksgiving while others, such as Jacqueline Keeler of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, mark the day to commemorate how the Indian people survived “mass murder and other injustices.”
And yet, Thanksgiving – a truly American holiday – continues.
We give thanks.
For me, this Thanksgiving prayer by Samuel Pugh sums it up.
O God, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work, help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home, help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency, bestir my compassion,
And be concerned enough to help, by word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted.
Nov. 21, 2018