Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, the Christmas holiday season is in full swing. However, something I see every year is that Thanksgiving, the traditional American holiday of being grateful and enjoying time with family and friends, is increasingly being absorbed into the Christmas season. Whether you are in favor of this trend or not, I believe it is worth it to preserve Thanksgiving as a special time rather than just for shopping and holiday pomp.
Though the origins of Thanksgiving aren’t quite as simple as the stories would have us believe, Thanksgiving has come to represent a holiday for many Americans to do just that, give thanks and be with those they love and appreciate. In my opinion, the big dinners and turkey and assorted festivities all serve the ultimate goal of bringing people together in a special way. It wouldn’t be the same if the family gathered around an order of pizza would it?
This is always what I have remembered about Thanksgiving from my earliest years. It was the time when I would get to see my whole family all gathered at once. My grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins all assembled at one time before the chaos of Christmas time. It was the time to see and catch up with those people you didn’t get to see that often or at all the rest of the preceding year.
Our family members would, and still do, come over to my grandparents’ house in the morning and stay late into the evening having the traditional meal, playing games, watching movies or just talking. Even with the proliferation of cell phones as I’ve gotten older, their use has been strongly discouraged in favor of the family doing things together and in person.
However, the modern world seems to no longer favor this state of affairs. This year, an early harbinger of the season, Christmas music, appeared on the radio almost a week before Thanksgiving. Black Friday sales that have long been creeping into Thanksgiving Thursday opened at times such as 2 p.m. or earlier on Thanksgiving Day. Now Christmas music is fairly innocent, despite my belief it should be saved until the day after Thanksgiving, but Black Thursday/Friday sales are a bad development.
Though many contend partaking in Black Thursday/Friday sales is a choice, having them on Thursday undermines family dynamics in multiple ways. First, if the best deals start on Thanksgiving Thursday, people who rely on these sales to save money on Christmas gifts then adapt their schedules to prioritize the sales at this time rather than gather with family. Second, for those who have to work the stores during these sales, they have a dilemma of being able to earn additional holiday pay at the expense of giving up Thanksgiving Thursday to spend with their own families.
It almost seems like Thanksgiving is becoming a skipped or half-acknowledged holiday. Even Halloween is under threat. There were many sales of Christmas decor even during mid-October. Though I am a big fan of Christmas and the December holiday season, I firmly believe each holiday has its time and place, which is increasingly not the case in our shopping and advertising cycles.
Thanksgiving should be kept special and separate as a holiday because its message of gratefulness and family is a strong one in these increasingly hectic times. It’s important we don’t lose it in the growing trend of sales and jumping straight into the Christmas season. Though Christmas is an important holiday, I believe it shouldn’t have to eclipse another holiday that is just as important and special.
Connor Kockler is a student at St. John’s University. He enjoys writing, politics and news, among other interests.