For the first time, I saw Christmas decorations at my house before Thanksgiving this year. My parents strung up lights, moved aside furniture to make room for the Christmas tree and nailed creepy Santa faces onto the wall and that loudly greet each passerby with holiday cheer. Off to the side, my folks purchased a small chicken and some ready-made meals at the bakery Santiago for the annual family dinner. Where did Thanksgiving go?
As a child, my mother decorated the house in Thanksgiving-themed designs and installed inflatable turkeys on the front lawn to greet neighbors, but this year, there was no six-foot tall turkey at our front porch ready to impress the neighbors. Instead, a light machine showered the front of our house with kaleidoscopic Christmas lights each night.
I don’t mind at all–who doesn’t love Christmas? However, it still bothers me that Thanksgiving receives little to no significance, while Christmas explodes to greater extremes each year. We hear Christmas jingles before turkeys start selling and thawing in grocery stores.
I believe this happened because of two factors—people and money.
People’s attitudes have changed in recent years. Previously, Thanksgiving set aside a time of family, food and reconnection after long separations. Now that we have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and tons of other social media sites that make communication easier than pushing a button, the eagerness to look forward to dinner family dinners replaces itself with the mundane or worse, dreading seeing one’s relatives again. There’s probably a reason why you picked the farthest college away from home, am I right?
Let’s not also forget that trends rise and fall throughout our lifetimes. Some seasons have more emphasis placed upon them than others. Christmas has always been an important celebration, but Thanksgiving is lumped so close that it often gets overlooked.
Think of Thanksgiving as the middle child in the holiday family – Big Brother Halloween makes Thanksgiving practically non-existent until he soaks up enough time in the spotlight. Before Thanksgiving even introduces itself, Baby Christmas comes in and steals the show. Take it from me, a middle child myself: It sucks.
Of course, money makes the world go round. Christmas consistently proves a highly profitable endeavor for those sniffing to turn a good buck. Christmas is literally a time of giving. Giving equals spending money, and spending money means making a profit.
The unfortunate truth? Christmas lures significant amounts of money wasted on family and friends. Of course, Christmas is also a holiday that brings loved ones together with caroling, mistletoes, gingerbread houses and Santa Claus, but these it seems more like Two-Face: Two sides to itself, a time of spreading holiday cheer and today a time for businesses to reap what consumers sow.
Does that mean Christmas is an “evil holiday”? Obviously not. Just like Thanksgiving, Christmas ushers in a time of celebration and joy. However, each holiday serves a different purpose. Christmas is a time of giving and receiving, of presents, of time, of self. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a time of giving thanks and showing appreciation for loved ones. Both holidays have a beautiful meaning and warrant celebration.
Who knows, maybe one day Thanksgiving will make a comeback and once again be a time of family reunions and falling into turkey comas. Until then, I’ll do what I can to hold gratitude for my loved ones and all the good that comes my way. Thanksgiving may be once a year, but showing appreciation and giving thanks is a year-round holiday. Take that, Christmas.