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No Misgivings About Thanksgiving

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Somewhere in between Halloween and the various other December holidays is my favorite of America’s Q4 celebrations. It is a day when I get up early to cook lots of food, which I hope will be consumed by lots of people so that I do not have to store the leftovers and make my family complain about having to eat recycled food (“It’s good for the environment and okay for you.”)1 for the next several days.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving. It is one of the few holidays that hasn’t been over-commercialized and over-politicized. It is not a day of greed and covetousness like Halloween or Christmas, but one of gluttony and sloth (except, perhaps, for those of us who have to wash the dishes). Family and friends get together to cook and eat food, share mirth and merriment and watch parades and football — Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions (12:30pm, EST) and Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys (4:15pm, EST). And, as we enjoy all of these Earthly delights and indulgences, we might even just take the time to count our blessings and find it in our hearts and minds to be grateful for what we have, instead of lamenting what we do not.

This year I noted that the usual Pagan artifacts called “Christmas decorations” and other ubiquitous multicultural holiday items and symbols associated with the numerous feasts, festivals and festivities surrounding the Winter Solstice began appearing in the retail outlets just before October 31. It was difficult to find Autumn, turkey and Pilgrim-themed linens and accents among the garish displays of cheerful red, green and gold articles commingled with leftover orange, black and purple horror movie cliches.

I could grumble about Thanksgiving being taken for granted, but Thanksgiving is a time for thanks so I will be grateful because the paltry retail shelf space means that Thanksgiving remains relatively free of the burdens of ostentation and the crassness of conspicuous consumerism. I will also appreciate how the lack of political or religious controversies (I’m sure someone somewhere is complaining about something, but nobody else seems ready to really listen or care) demonstrates that Thanksgiving is virtually impermeable to the forces of commercialization and politicization. Retailers can’t figure out how to oversell it and politicians can’t find a way to exploit it.

I suppose that I should also be happy that I only have to go to one store to hunt and gather for the big day. I already have an autumnal tablecloth, turkey-shaped salt and pepper shakers and Pilgrim figurines. My annual Thanksgiving holiday shopping will consist of obtaining the overflowing cartload of groceries I will require to prepare my sumptuous Thanksgiving banquet of roast turkey with my best stuffing, mashed potatoes and my special gravy, cranberry sauce, mixed vegetables, biscuits and pumpkin pie. I’m thankful (and kind of hungry) already!

1 A line spoken by the Robotic Food Dispenser in the 1995 film, Judge Dredd.
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About Margaret Romao Toigo

  • Aaman

    I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but Black Friday, or the Day After Thanksgiving is the most commercialized event of the retailing calendar.

    Furthermore, the event will always carry a subtext of invasion, subjugation and conquest – despite it’s wonderful tenor of family bonds and good food.

  • Victor Plenty

    Thanksgiving need not carry any subtext, Aaman. The original event we base it on was not in itself an act of war, violence, or subjugation, despite occurring in a period of history dominated by those woes.

    For a brief moment people of vastly different backgrounds sat down together at the table of brotherhood, creating an ideal image Martin Luther King called upon to inspire us again centuries later.

    It’s really quite fitting for Thanksgiving to remain a brief oasis in the middle of a desperately commercialized season. It shows our spiritual instincts will always resist crass materialism, and seek the simple contentments of home and family.

  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    Aaman, you didn’t rain on my Thanksgiving parade.

    Black Friday, which refers to the color of ink that retailers hope to see in their ledgers, is the day after Thanksgiving.

    Thanksgiving represents the natives and the settlers taking a break from all of the invading, subjugating and conquesting.

    Thanksgiving is resistant to the stain of negative connotations because, as Victor pointed out, “our spiritual instincts will always resist crass materialism, and seek the simple contentments of home and family.”

  • Natalie Davis

    Check the newspapers. Retailers are encouraging folks to get a jump on holiday shopping by hitting Thanksgiving Day pre-Christmas sales. On Thanksgiving. I actually heard an ad this morning that exhorted people to spend “the whole day” shopping. Forget the turkey, skip the football, pass on helping out at the food bank — SHOP! Boggles the mind.

  • Nancy

    This is the kind of crass commercialism that Americans are indoctrinated with from birth. The answer is to turn off the damned radio or TV, and send a letter or email to the VP of whatever merchant it was with the offending message, advising them that it was offending, and that you are as of now boycotting them & urging everyone you know to do the same as a rebuke to their greed. If enough of us do it, there might be some backing down by the crassmongers.