I have always waxed nostalgic about Thanksgiving Day. I can close my eyes slowly and effortlessly imagine myself sitting at that dinner table so eloquently painted by Norman Rockwell. Yes, that is me sitting right next to Grandpa on the right side of the table! No, I do not have my hand in the bowl of mashed potatoes!
As the years have rolled by, I have been aghast at how Turkey Day has been trivialized; cast aside to that collection of marginal holidays such as Columbus and Flag Days! There was a time where the Jack-O-Lanterns were tossed in the trash and the house was decorated in colorful corn cobs and fake autumn-colored leaves. All good citizens waited to unpack the Christmas lights until the day after Thanksgiving. The merchant community refused to start Black Friday until eight in the morning.
Alas, how things have changed . . . for the worse! The weekend after Halloween, I was out in the neighborhood on the end of a leash; the handle, not the hook! Even my faithful hound Xena seemed perturbed by the number of neighbors hanging Christmas lights! To make matters worse, the majority of these households are also turning on their lights nightly already!
On an average year, I am proud to say that I hang a good 10,000 combined Christmas lights. Yes, I am one of those! Yet all it takes is seeing one child standing on the sidewalk, jaw hanging wide open, to make it all seem worthwhile. I easily invest over fifty hours in outdoor decorating; but I have the decency to wait until the day after Thanksgiving! In the meantime, the retail community has taken it upon themselves to begin Black Friday on Thanksgiving night now. Have they no shame? Did I mention that I have yet to see a single Thanksgiving decoration anywhere in the neighborhood?
I take comfort in the knowledge that many of us will at least observe the rituals that come on the actual fourth Thursday of November. Tables will be filled with obscene amounts of food, family and friends will be gathered, football games will be watched, and belts will be unbuckled. For at least a few hours, the spirit of Thanksgiving will prevail.
I have often pondered the true meaning of Thanksgiving Day. It is an opportunity to truly express our thanks for the bounty that life gives to each of us. It is a time to cherish family and welcome near-strangers into our home. All of us tend to be on our best behavior throughout the day; setting aside our past differences with family and friends. I have even heard that fundraising for homeless shelters is at its highest during the week immediately preceding this holiday!
All of these phenomena unique to Turkey Day have given me a brilliant idea. Then again, I have gotten past brilliant ideas simply from reading the label on a soup can! Why not extend the Thanksgiving holiday? No, I am not talking about taking the Friday after off so we can have a long weekend. Instead, I am proposing that legislation be promptly enacted to create a new national holiday; Thanksgiving Month!
The immediate benefits of this action are obvious. First, we get to feast for an entire thirty days; although I am certain that would wreak havoc on our national obesity situation. Second, we would get to share additional quality family and friend time; though I imagine we would wear thin on each other rather quickly. Third, people would be nicer to each other and much more generous for an entire month; assuming that is truly possible.
I do have my ulterior motives behind this proposal as well. Imagine my neighbors not being able to put up their lights so early; since we would be observing Thanksgiving for an entire month! The stores would be less compelled to replace their Halloween costume sections with artificial Christmas trees. The concept of Black Friday would need to yield to holding the initial holiday sales on December First. I know what you are thinking! Would postponing the holiday shopping season devastate the entire U.S. economy? Not at all. Imagine how much retailers would make off of their Thanksgiving Day decor sales; not to mention the serious uptick the turkey and jellied cranberry sauce industries would enjoy!
I realize that many of you may consider me a bit of a zealot; and my proposal a bit unrealistic. I must ask your indulgence as I try to perpetuate a piece of nostalgia; perhaps urging us towards a simpler time, when each of us went out of our way to help others. I simply believe that a month of giving thanks is absolutely in order.
There may be those who simply will not join me in calling for Thanksgiving Month. To each of those individuals, I say, “Wait until you hear my plans for Christmas Year!”