Thursday, November 10, 2011
last update 2:05 amNovember 10, 2011
What happened to Thanksgiving?
by Brittany Patterson Nov 8, 2011
Last weekend I was on the hunt for Thanksgiving-themed merchandise. My ultimate goal: two-dozen cupcake liners with cute cartoon turkeys pasted on the side, and maybe a pilgrim or two.
Instead, I was assaulted with candy canes, mistletoe and cinnamon-scented pine cones.
Don’t get me wrong, I love cinnamon-scented pine cones — in fact, they are probably one of my favorite parts of the whole Christmas establishment — it’s the time element that disturbs me.
People, it’s the beginning of November. Half of the country is still eating their Halloween candy.
If I’m not mistaken, here in America (and apparently in Canada, too), we have this weird holiday that comes near the end of November in which we celebrate when the Wampanoag Native Americans helped the Pilgrims at the colonial settlement in Plymouth in 1621, by providing them with seeds and teaching them how to fish. Apparently we sat down and shared a harvest meal together.
Maybe you’ve heard of it — we call it Thanksgiving.
To honor their generosity, Americans deep-fry turkeys, gorge themselves on stuffing and green bean casserole and fight with their families.
We also have this curious case of amnesia when it comes to the fact that later on, Americans systematically wiped out most of the Native Americans in this country.
We compensate with pumpkin pie — lots of it, topped with Cool Whip.
But all snarkiness aside, Thanksgiving is this a nationwide excuse to eat gluttonous amounts of comfort food with family. As college students, come October we’re practically willing time to travel faster to get to Thanksgiving break. And it’s not just the break from classes — many of my friends are genuinely excited to go home and see their parents, friends and pets.
According to the History Channel’s website devoted to Thanksgiving, in 1863 President Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941.
This holiday has been celebrated for hundreds of years, and yet when I went to Michaels craft store yesterday, I was bombarded with ornaments, Frosty the Snowman gift tags and gingerbread houses.
Christmas wreaths and glitter-covered fake poinsettias snagged me as I wandered in disbelief down the aisles.
Where were all the poorly drawn pictures of turkeys dressed as pilgrims? Why were there no fake gourds, pumpkins or Indian corn to be found?
Target was no better.
Fake trees and shimmering garlands galore.
We’re a country that loves our holidays. I mean, we fabricated Valentine’s Day so we could give one another little pieces of paper marked with clichés and eat lots of heart-shaped candy.
So why do the retail giants seem to have forgotten about Thanksgiving?
Maybe recently the collective American psyche has grown a conscience and we feel guilty about our past.
But our solution, to stretch out the Christmas season an extra month, is worrisome on its own.
I worry that if the current rate of pushing up the Christmas season continues unchecked, by the time I’m 30, the familiar melody of “Jingle Bell Rock” will be heard immediately following “The Star-Spangled Banner” and fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Americans will watch in awe as brightly colored lights explode above us, while we manically shove hot dogs down our throats, followed by a mass migration to the nearest Walmart. Proceed to Christmas. Do not have other holidays. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
We’re going to jump straight to Christmas and completely ignore the millions of turkeys that are currently sitting naked and frozen in grocery stores across the nation.
According to the American Psychological Association’s 2008 holiday stress poll, they found that more than eight out of 10 Americans anticipate stress during the holiday season.
The holidays stress me out — the pressure of buying the perfect gifts, the subsequent economic strain caused by purchasing said gifts, traveling all over to meet with family all while fighting the urge to eat my body weight in chocolate and ham.
I take the whole year to recover from the previous year’s Christmas season. The last thing I think this already stressed-out country needs is a shorter recovery period for one of the most stressful times of the year.
Regardless of Thanksgiving’s checkered past, it’s current role is to bring families together. Whether you’re watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, football or just stuffing your face, Thanksgiving is important. It is by all counts a national holiday and more importantly so, it’s unadulterated family time. There’s no hiding behind gifts — just your massive food baby — and sometimes I think we need to have a day where our biggest concern is how many pieces of pie we should eat.
Relax, the turkeys are already dead. We might as well enjoy them.
There are those who wear a smile, yet ache inside; those who are engulfed in a sea of emptiness; those who suffer from pain, guilt, bitterness, and condemnation; those who feel remorse over the past or fear the future.-So many lost and desperate folks in the world today! It reminds me of the words to that old Beatles song, “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” Well, I’ll tell you where they come from-all the lonely people come from selfish living. All the lonely people, the lost and the forlorn, come from a society where people look to their own needs and not to the needs of others. That’s where all the lonely people come from-from a dog-eat-dog society, from a lot of wrongful living.
Ted Rudow III, MA
Class of 1996