Author’s Note: I wrote this article last year and thought it worth repeating in light of the increased amount of retailers like Walmart remaining open all day on Thanksgiving Day in order to get a jump on “Black Friday” – the traditional day-after shopper’s spree.
More and more each year commercialism is chipping away at a holiday that even our Founding Fathers had acknowledged as necessary. In a proclamation, America’s first president, George Washington wrote in 1789: “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country…” Thanks to Walmart and other retailers Thanksgiving to God has been pre-empted by Christmas greed. We now give more reverence to Santa Claus!
Do you hear what I hear? Yes that’s Christmas music on the radio, and Thanksgiving hasn’t even been observed yet! Each year it seems we take a little more from the Thanksgiving tradition by focusing on commercialism. This year many retailers are not even waiting for ‘Black Friday’ – they’re opening their doors Thanksgiving night! What gives? Is Santa slaying Thanksgiving, and ‘sleighing’ turkeys (like Theo Turkey) to usher in Christmas ahead of schedule?
The American Thanksgiving holiday is sandwiched between our two highest-grossing commercial holidays – Halloween being second, and Christmas first. This year in America alone Halloween spending reached almost seven billion dollars, all for candy, costumes, and parties. An estimated 160 million people celebrate Halloween.
Christmas, on the other hand, is a day known for giving with the expectation that something will be given in return to the degree that someone had to remind us to “keep Christ in Christmas.” The Bible quote, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” [Acts 20:35 KJV] goes out the window when it comes to Christmas. People get indignant thinking: “You mean to tell me I got you a gift (or card), and you did not get me one? How unthoughtful…the thanks I get!” What’s the point? If that’s the spirit, why don’t we all just keep our gifts to ourselves and keep the score even?
These days it seems that Thanksgiving has more Christ in it than Christmas. Turkeys aside, it’s a time of reflection without the pressures of commercial shopping. Can you imagine someone saying, “If I give you a turkey, will you give me one?” No, that’s not the spirit. This is the time when families come together one special day each year to gather around a common table to give thanks not for the turkey – we can get that anytime – but for showers of blessings from heaven. Where the tradition of the turkey may bring us together, God’s love keeps us together. We give thanks to God, and show our gratefulness when we show love towards one another. When we look around the table this year and see loved ones we thought we’d never see again, seniors who may not be here much longer, and the little ones – we should give thanks. When we consider the times where there is so much to be concerned about, and yet we’re all under the same roof comforted by one another’s presence – even the spirit of loved ones no longer here – we should give thanks. This is the season when we can truly give of ourselves if at no other time, assured without obligation that giving is the thanks.
Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. [email protected] (213) 220-8101