Within the past week, I’ve heard Christmas music on the radio, I’ve seen advertisements for “A Christmas Story” across campus and noticed an alarmingly high amount of Facebook statuses notifying me that “so-and-so is going Christmas shopping— CAN’T WAIT!!” I absolutely love the Christmas season: I love the spirit of the season, the decorations, the countdown and the day itself. The only thing that throws a wrench in the tinsel-clad holiday machine for me is the fact that we’re two weeks into November. It seems as if after everyone wakes up from their costumes and candy-induced comas, they’re drawn into the flashing LED lights at the end of the hallway, and they, without any ability to deny its allure, run towards it. In our fanatical race towards the end of December, we completely bypass the door with “Thanksgiving” on it.
So, why is it that Thanksgiving has essentially morphed into the “forgotten holiday?” I understand that decorating your home with squash and little black-belt-buckled New England Puritan figurines is not as attractive, and nobody wants to deck their halls with bales of hay. When it comes to the sexy factor, Thanksgiving definitely falls short of the flashier Christmas, but it’s not supposed to be. Regardless of whichever skewed historical origins or backstory you attribute to Thanksgiving, at its core, it’s about one simple principle: gratitude, giving thanks. Shocking.
Granted, I will admit that one of the reasons I love the Christmas season so much is because that for those three to four weeks leading up to the big day, everyone finally treats others how they should be treated. When you’re younger, this is because you fear a morbidly obese man will refuse to bury you under toys and wrapping paper if you’re not a model child. As you get older, you bank on receiving a gift of equal or greater value from those for whom you’re obligated to buy gifts. It’s Christmas-sponsored blackmail. Thanksgiving, pinned between two holidays that require massive amounts of spending to determine the amount of enjoyment had, is skirted over by every business and store aside from your local supermarket (and even then, you see Christmas ham discounts the same time you’re lining up for your turkey).
I think most of us are forced to conclude that because of Thanksgiving’s lack of marketability, it won’t receive huge amounts of mass media promotion and support: how many Thanksgiving movies can you name? If you’ve reached one, you’ve proven a point and beaten me, but then compare it to the myriad of Christmas movies made every single year. Food stores can only offer so many different discounts on turkey and stuffing, but they still won’t stand a chance once that new video game or toy comes sweeping through town, taking the parents of children hostage until they cave in and buy it. There aren’t reports of assaults or deaths as people scramble over one another to duel for the last can of cranberry sauce in the aisle, but you best believe that on Black Friday, every joy-to-the-world and ounce of peace-on-earth will be shattered if department stores so much as hint at running out of this year’s sale item.
So, yeah, Thanksgiving won’t have the mass appeal of Christmas, or even Halloween: aside from a larger than usual meal, and that’s if you’re lucky, in most cases people won’t be receiving much else. But really, it’s okay because that’s how it should be. Thanksgiving allots a time where except for an annual football game and “The Godfather” series marathon on TV, you are able to sit back, take a break and reflect.
If you’re able to celebrate the day, you’ve got at least one thing for which you could be thankful. For those of us here at Elizabethtown College, what more do you need to see? We have the privilege to be at a private college, surrounded by friends every day and hopefully attempting to strive for the betterment of ourselves as students, people and future members of real-world society. Hopefully we can all realize that idea this year, or at least hold off from watching Christmas movies until December. If not, good news: they’ve been having Christmas sales since September.