'Tis the day before Thanksgiving and how do I know? By the half ton of these ads that came with today's newspapers. Yeesh. It's as if Thanksgiving isn't a real holiday at all anymore. It's just a preamble to Christmas.
I think that is unfair. Thanksgiving deserves it's own separate, individual, unique identity and I fear it is getting lost in the great Holiday Season Chaos. I say "holiday season" not for any politically correct avoidance of the word, "Christmas". I never avoid the word Christmas. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. See? It's just that from Halloween through New Years it's just kind of one big collective thing.
I know that back when I was working and still had kids at home, time was a more valuable commodity than it is now. So it just made sense to pick up candy canes at the store at the same time that I was buying Halloween candy. Hey! It was right there on the same shelf. And oh my goodness yes, I live and die by my lists even now. Of course since my brain follows a butterfly path I could be planning a Thanksgiving menu and think of a great idea of Christmas cookies at the same time. Clearly I always have multiple lists going on.
But while it is apparent, even to me, that I'm as guilty as anyone else at not keeping these holidays as separate as they should be, my point remains. Thanksgiving is losing it's essence, it's specialness, it's je ne sais quoi. I'm not looking for a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving after all. I mean, even Norman Rockwell probably didn't have that.
I realized when I was working with my English as a second language pupil earlier this week how hard it is to describe Thanksgiving as a holiday to someone who has zero idea what it's all about.
I mean there are "traditional foods" I suppose, but that's so different region to region across the US and of course family to family. I described to her the classics, you know, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie.... but what kind of stuffing? Which cranberry sauce, the jelly or the whole berry sauce? And while we will have pumpkin pie we will also have pecan. Other folks have apple pie or chocolate cake or ice cream! Any since very little of what has come to be quasi-traditional Thanksgiving food, is actually accurate to the original event, it's moot. As a kid we were just as apt to have spaghetti as turkey anyway. But whatever people eat, be it turkey sandwiches or lasagna, people always complain about eating too much of it. I've heard Thanksgiving described as a day of gluttony. That's not pretty. Thanksgiving is clearly not just about the food.
So I tried to think of other Thanksgiving traditions like, the Macy's parade. I remember watching that on Thanksgiving morning as a kid and loving it! It's certainly not a pilgrim based tradition, but it's something that does happen every Thanksgiving, like clockwork. But, other than seeing bits of it in the original version of "Miracle on 34t6h Street" , it haven't actually watched it in years. And what is the last float in the parade? Santa Claus! See I was right! Thanksgiving is really about Christmas. Sigh.
Well wait, there is football. I know there is lots and lots of football on TV that day. So Thanksgiving is about watching a very popular American sport wherein overpaid athletes in colourful garb try to wrest a ball from one another, even if that means coming to violence, with the intent of carrying said ball (which is actually more of an oval than a ball-shaped object) to a specified space on the opposite end of a pre-marked area, over and over. Hmmm. Is that Thanksgving, really?
According to statistics, Thanksgiving is THE most travelled day in the US be it by car, train, bus or plane so perhaps Thanksgiving is about family and friends. All those people spending the money for the ticket or making the long drive to go over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house or aunties house, or mom and dad's. Or perhaps you share your Thanksgiving with friends instead. But families live so far apart from each other nowadays that despite all the flying and driving and effort made, the fact of the matter is, that a lot of people can't get to their loved ones for the holiday. Perhaps they have to work on Thanksgiving (a surprisingly large number of people do) or they can't afford the price of the ticket or, even more sadly, maybe they have no place to go. So let's not depress anyone by saying that Thanksgiving is just about family.
Hmmmmm. This is a tough one. Maybe, when called upon to describe Thanksgiving to someone who has never experienced the holiday before we can just say that Thanksgiving is a day set apart from all the rest to remind us to be grateful for what we have, for our good fortunes, our blessings and to celebrate that in whichever way we chose. I think that works for me.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving however you chose to celebrate it. Be safe, Have fun and be Thankful.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.