The mercenary motives are obvious: Retailers need holiday spending the way, oh, the Pilgrims needed to know how to plant maize. So all the early advertising and Bing Crosby's crooning combine to get us in the mood to rub smooth our charge cards in order to buy and give things that people don't really want.
But it really has begun earlier and earlier, hasn't it? When I was a kid, you didn't see/hear much Christmas until after Thanksgiving.
So why hasn't Thanksgiving been able to hold its own in the Holiday Derby? Well, for one thing, the Thanksgiving spending is pretty limited to food and relevant supplies (turkeys and canned pumpkin and roasting pans and the like--and psychotherapy after the relatives have gone home). I don't know of any tradition of gift-giving on Thanksgiving--though maybe other families have different traditions? So--not all the merchants can benefit from a huge Thanksgiving hype. So ... Bring on Christmas!
Another reason, maybe? In recent times, the holiday has made some folks a little uneasy, reminding them that it celebrates one of those times when white Christians saw something they liked and just took it from nonwhite non-Christians. As we've become more socially alert and sensitive, we've tended, maybe, to become a little less proud of some of our history? A little more--what?--aware that other people don't necessarily feel the same way we do about it?
And, of course, unlike Christmas, there's no massive history and tradition of music and stories and poems and movies and TV specials and whatever about Thanksgiving. Oh, sure, there are parades--but have you noticed they feature a lot of Christmas stuff? We have no "Rudolf, the Red-Beaked Turkey" or "The Night Before Thanksgiving" or "Frosty, the Frozen Butterball" and the like. So maybe if we want to elevate Thanksgiving on our ladder of holidays, we need to start creating more songs and such to get people in the mood.
Some ideas ...
- a song: "Squanto, We Need You--Pronto!"
- a Charlie Brown special: The Great Turkey
- a song: "I Saw Mommy Cleaning Up While Daddy Took a Nap"
- a holiday movie: Miles Standish Mashes Potatoes with Priscilla
- a holiday character: Scruffy, the Scarecrow
- a song: "The Bad Words Daddy Said When the Football Game Went Dark"
- a song: "I'm Dreaming of a Short Thanksgiving"
- a holiday movie: The Headless Turkey
- a song: "The Bad Words Daddy Said to Mommy's Brother"
- a holiday special: Connie, The Cornbread Girl
- a song: "Why Don't I Ever Get a Drumstick?"
- a holiday movie: When the Zombies Came Back for Seconds
- a song: "When Grandpa Sliced the Turkey, He Cut His Finger Off"
- a holiday movie: Katniss Eats a Mockingjay for Thanksgiving
- a song: "My Cousins Are All Weird"
- a song: "Grandma Can't Cook Anymore"
I'm certain some of these ideas would propel Thanksgiving back to its rightful place as a notable American holiday and not just a paving stone on the Gold Road to Christmas. So let's get busy!