The battle lines are being drawn all around us. The rumblings of discontent and the cries of revolution are warming up. There is a storm coming.
It is called Thanksgiving.
It never used to be this way. Way back in the old days when I was a kid — when the world was all in black and white, as my children used to say — Thanksgiving was not the start of the Christmas season. It was the end of the summer season.
Growing up in the country and on a farm Thanksgiving closed the harvest. The season was literally a time of gathering in for the long season ahead.
And depending upon how full the pantry became we either got down on our knees in joyful gratitude or with tearful pleading. But no matter what, we got down on our knees.
Thanksgiving was a sacred time on the farm. Gratitude was not just something we talked about around the table. It was something we felt.
As time and society has progressed I’ve come to love Thanksgiving more.
Unlike Halloween before or Christmas after there has never been any type of frenzy associated with Thanksgiving. You just show up, do your thing and bask in the moment of family togetherness. It’s not life on the farm but it is still all it ever meant to me.
But now with white hair on my head and grandchildren on my knee I ache at what Thanksgiving has become to some.
You can feel the clamor building up already on social media and in the news.
On my timeline today — a full 12 days before Halloween — I see the first protest emblems of “I won’t shop on Thanksgiving!” This is a new debate, one never part of the Thanksgiving experience before.
Yes, kids, there was a time where one wouldn’t be caught dead in a store on Thanksgiving Day because, well, they were closed. And they were closed because everyone belonged at home with their families and businesses took pride in the fact they gave their employees the day off. In fact, Thanksgiving used to be so special some businesses even gave their employees the turkey they would eat on the big day, that’s how special it all was.
Now all of that is a debate, a poll, a statistic — something you attach an emblem to on your social media pages, a cyber-scarlet letter staking your place in the fight. It is a bit crazy to me.
Perhaps more inexplicable to me is the debate over those who want to eat turkeys on Thanksgiving versus those who accuse turkey-eaters of being bird abusers. 364 other days of the year meat-eaters and veg heads co-exist in seeming peace. But for Thanksgiving they come out, forks drawn, poking each other in the eye for their cruelty and stupidity. It’s a helluva a way to spend a holiday.
Arguments surround us. There are those who argue about a television station’s 25 Days to Christmas movie marathon. Seems those 25 days includes movies that are not Christmas movies.
Oh the horror!
Others get their knickers in a twist over the fact the President of the United States either does or does not invoke the name of Deity on Thanksgiving. Imagine that — a people divided in a country where such division is celebrated.
Oh the humanity!
People talk about the war on Christmas but really it is Thanksgiving that gives a stage to all these voices behind agendas, thoughts, and principles.
This year we’re going to see stores open earlier than ever on Thanksgiving, seemingly placing before Americans a moral choice: do you go for the deals or stick with the family?
I tell you revolutions are fought over lesser ideas.
We won’t fight this with guns, though. We’ll make choices with our feet and with our social media clicks. And in between it all we’ll eat turkey, give thanks to either God in heaven or the gods of football and still celebrate anyway.
The very practice of Thanksgiving — the idea that one could set aside a day to just acknowledge the goodness of what they have — is purely an American ideal.
I know there are some other countries that celebrate a form of Thanksgiving and there is some mention of giving thanks in the Bible but at the end of the day only in America could you get a holiday like our Thanksgiving has become.
Behind it all, of course, is Christmas — the season of peace and goodwill towards all men.
But don’t call it a Christmas tree….