Now that Halloween has come and gone, it’s time for Christmas season to begin. The lights, the music, the shopping–
Oh, wait, did I forget something? Sorry. Now it’s time for Thanksgiving season to begin.
When I was a kid I didn’t care much for Thanksgiving. Halloween had the candy and costumes, and Christmas had the music, decorations and presents. Thanksgiving didn’t have quite the same glitz and glamour.
Or market appeal. Of the three major year-end holidays, it’s the only one without a commercial campaign. No fancy lawn ornaments. No costumes or hats. I mean, have you ever been to a “Thanksgiving party”? Me neither. Thanksgiving doesn’t give people a chance to get stuff, buy stuff or be entertained by stuff.
That’s why it’s usually pushed aside like the runt of the litter or the forgotten middle child of the big three. Which is exactly why I appreciate it more and more with each passing year. It’s the only one that retains something beautiful, something underrated: simplicity.
Halloween and Christmas, as fun as they are, tend to revolve around what shoppers will buy. But Thanksgiving? Besides a turkey and some stuffing, Thanksgiving is about staying at home, relaxing from the hustle and bustle, and being grateful for all we’ve been blessed with. It’s the ultimate kick-in-the-crotch to commercialism, and that’s why this greed-infested country seems so bent on forgetting it.
Or worse. Perhaps I’m overthinking things, but there seems to be a recent campaign to take Thanksgiving down, or at least reinvent it. On November 1 we’ll be subject to Free Birds, a nationally-released computer-animated kids flick revolving around turkeys. From the previews it seems to be little more than a cliché-ridden flop released for the sole purpose of profiting off the Thanksgiving name. It’s already been panned in most of its early reviews.
Do we really need Thanksgiving-themed movies? Do we want film genres and theme parks and toy stores making money off the holiday?
But that’s the least of our troubles. Forget about Thanksgiving being commercialized, I’m worried about it being replaced altogether. Lingering just behind this turkey-filled Thursday is a monstrosity of a day aptly named Black Friday. This is the real kick-off to the Christmas season, when the retailers feed the American people with hot deals on stuff the public has little use for but thinks it desperately needs.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday are about as opposite as two days can get. One is about family and thankfulness. The other is about elbowing your way through a mob in the wee hours of the morning to buy more stuff. Guess which one has more market appeal?
That’s why stores started opening their doors last year on Thanksgiving night, some as early as 9 pm, and they’re set to do the same this year. They can’t even give thankfulness a full day. Last year I wrote Black Friday: The Death of Thanksgiving, and I believe these words still apply:
“In past years Black Friday was just a fun little rush on Friday mornings, a kick-off to the Christmas shopping season. Then retailers pushed things back to early Friday morning, with sales beginning at 1 and 2 a.m. Before the sun had even risen, customers had wiped the shelves clean. Apparently there just aren’t enough hours in a Friday morning for that magnitude of greed, because now the sales are extending back into Thanksgiving evening.”
Black Friday is infiltrating Thanksgiving like a plague, slowly edging it out of the spotlight. Black Friday is becoming Black Thursday. It’s replacing Thanksgiving.
If you don’t give the American market the commercialism it craves, well then by golly, the American people will just find a new thrill for the month of November. Thanksgiving will either be overrun by commercialism, or replaced by it.
Either way, I really think its future in a country this greedy is pretty dim.
Which is why I’m not going to think about Christmas for at least another month. I’m going to soak up the next few weeks for all they’re worth, I’m going to focus on the true value of thankfulness and simplicity behind Turkey Day, and now that Halloween is over I’m going to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.