Has Thanksgiving been gobbled up by Christmas?

by Terri WInder
My second youngest daughter currently works at a Joann fabric and crafts store.
She told me that a few weeks ago that a customer demanded to know, “Where’s Thanksgiving? You’ve gone right from Halloween to Christmas.”
With a reassuring smile, she gave the only reply she could, “You’ll be pleased to find Thanksgiving on the sales rack. It’s lumped in there with autumn and Halloween.”
Though the customer acted as if it was all my daughter’s doing, there weren’t any Thanksgiving displays, my daughter (of course) has no input in the chain store’s policies.
Indeed, stores everywhere have done the same thing; they know where the real money is and it’s obviously not in Thanksgiving.
In fact, Santa Claus reportedly arrived at the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City, at the City Creek Center, on November 19 to “kick off this year’s Christmas festivities.”
The shopping center’s general manager said, “Customers really tell us when they’re ready to start the holiday season.”
In my own mind, I find it unfortunate that my favorite holiday of the year has been lost, not only lumped in with Halloween but overshadowed by football games.
In saying that, I’m not trying to disparage either of those traditions – I’m simply mourning the fact that Thanksgiving seems to have been reduced to an overstuffed meal and an overstuffed chair.
And, I dare say, without one or both of those comforts, there would be little giving of thanks by much of our country’s population, but rather a great deal of complaint.
Considering I have spent most of my Thanksgiving holidays either preparing and serving food or doing dishes, in retrospect it is actually a wonder to me that it is my favorite time of the year.
Perhaps it is more the idea of a day – a day set aside to give thanks – that is most appealing to me, that and because the holiday is family oriented.
Still, that may be another reason it is falling out of vogue, because the traditional family is unraveling. Come to think of it, is Thanksgiving itself even politically correct anymore?
We all know that the holiday is based on the harvest feast the Pilgrims and Native Americans held in 1621, in Plymouth, Massachusetts — and not the true first Thanksgiving of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, held July 8, 1630, which was actually a day of prayer and fasting.
(Can you even imagine a current president declaring a national fast day in the United States? John Adams and Abraham Lincoln dared to do so. Great Britain had one in April of 2014.)
General George Washington halted his troops on the way to Valley Forge in 1777 to observe the first Thanksgiving of the new United States of America.
After he was elected president he declared November 26, 1789, as a national day of “thanksgiving and prayer.” That day happened exactly 226 years ago this Thanksgiving — certainly something to reflect on and be grateful for.
Strangely, the annual presidential thanksgiving proclamations ceased for 45 years during the early 1800s, until President Abraham Lincoln resumed the tradition of Thanksgiving proclamations in 1863.
Since that year, Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States, though it wasn’t until President Roosevelt came along that the fourth Thursday in November was established as Thanksgiving Day, a tradition that has held since 1941.
Though it is no longer thought of as a day of prayer, many families or groups of friends still take a few moments to say what they are most grateful for before beginning their Thanksgiving feast.
I am aware of one family who knows this Thanksgiving will be their last with their father and husband, a relatively young man recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.
If my family was facing that same situation how might it change our Thanksgiving Day?
Or, perhaps it could all be summed up by the person who said, “What if you woke up today having only the things that you thanked God for yesterday?”
If that became a reality, then every day would become a day of thanksgiving and prayer.

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