What About Thanksgiving?

Did I sleep through Thanksgiving? Two weeks ago it was Halloween and according to my grocery store, already bedecked, the next holiday is Christmas. What happened to Thanksgiving? Do we still celebrate Thanksgiving? I would think that if we do, the grocery store’s decorations would reflect that. Isn’t–or wasn’t–Thanksgiving the biggest food festival of the year? Isn’t food what grocery stores sell? Wouldn’t they want to capitalize on a holiday just made for them? It is, or used to be at least, one of my friends’ favorite holidays–just all eating and no gifts. Wait till I tell her it may no longer exist.

Thanksgiving was one of the few true American-only holidays. Have we become so blended with the rest of the world that we don’t recognize our own beginnings anymore? Thanksgiving was our first national birthday party–before we actually became a nation and changed the birthday to the 4th of July. So where is Thanksgiving now?

If I follow the grocery store’s decorations, the holidays we celebrate through the year are: New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Super Bowl Day, Italian Days, Valentine’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, Back-to-School, Halloween, and Christmas. We’re getting gypped. No more President’s Day (that one used to be two separate holidays–remember?), Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, and worst of all, no more Thanksgiving. Good news for turkeys, but are we going to stand for this? (Please don’t ask me what Italian Days are–all I know is that my grocery store decorates for them sometime in January–or is it February?)

Well, OK, maybe some of those other holidays don’t merit grocery store, or anyone else’s, decorations, but I stand by Thanksgiving. There needs to be a national crusade to restore it to a place of prominence in our lives.

When I was a kid, fall holidays started with Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving, my birthday, and then Christmas. Christmas could not even be thought about or decorated for until after my birthday, which is mid-way between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everything got its due back then. No rushing into something before everything had had its proper turn.

The French, always up for a celebration, especially one centered around food, pay Thanksgiving more homage than my grocery store does. When I worked for Club Med, they made a big deal out of it. Many of their paying guests were Americans, and the French, in addition to looking for an excuse to celebrate, thought, as I did, that Thanksgiving was a big deal for us, and they wanted to celebrate to make the Americans feel at home. None of this passing over Thanksgiving just so that Christmas could be hurried along.

The majority of those who worked for Club Med were French, and we all had to get all dressed up as an Indian, a pilgrim, a cowboy, or a turkey and play out the first Thanksgiving in pageant form. Cowboys, you ask? Well, the French were a little confused about the cowboys–and they never could understand what a pilgrim was, but never mind that. At least they made an honest attempt at a celebration of something they knew next-to-nothing about. But just imagine an Indian, a pilgrim, a cowboy–or a turkey–with a French accent. Gives it all a decidedly different flavor.

I know—maybe the passing over of Thanksgiving is the latest fad diet. The Non-Thanksgiving Diet. Eliminate Thanksgiving and lose 20 pounds. Perhaps my grocery store thinks it’s not even necessary to announce Thanksgiving’s demise; just pretend it’s not there and no one will ever notice, and as a bonus, not eat all that fattening food. Maybe my grocery store considers this their selfless contribution to national weight control, which seems to have become a crusade of its own. Who knew that a grocery store could be so altruistic-thinking of its customers’ waistlines instead of its own profits? Somehow I don’t quite buy this.

But maybe not everyone relies on the grocery store’s decorations to tell them which holiday is next. And maybe it’s only my store that has had a memory lapse in the holiday line-up, but then again, I doubt it. We have to face facts. Thanksgiving is an endangered holiday and I think we all need to rally to come to its rescue. I’m calling the French right now.

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