A Harris poll a few years ago revealed that Christmas is the favorite holiday of the year among all age groups of Americans, but we think that Thanksgiving, our uniquely American holiday, has much more to recommend it than Christmas. Thanksgiving has its roots with the Pilgrims, long before the concept of a United States had crossed anyone’s mind. It always has been a secular celebration of peace and relaxation. It simply is a day to be grateful for what we have, however much that may be.
Thanksgiving is a day of no pressure. It is the ultimate family-centered holiday. It has no religious meaning, no national-celebration connotations, and no required gift-giving. It lacks the commercialism, solemnity, and political overtones of all of our other national observances. In a world where anxiety follows us 24/7, Thanksgiving provides a welcome respite from the commercialism that accompanies Christmas and most of our other holidays. There is no obligation to spend a lot of money (that many of us do not have in the first place) to buy the perfect gift in order to be the perfect spouse, or the perfect parent, or the perfect friend. Thanksgiving demands nothing more from each of us (other than for the person who is doing all the cooking!) beyond just showing up and enjoying the company of our family and friends and then having a great meal.
When we think of the Christmas vs. Thanksgiving debate, we think it’s analogous to the late comedian George Carlin’s skit about football vs. baseball (check it out on YouTube if you’ve never seen it). Football is the equivalent of war, while baseball is all about going home. Similarly, while Christmas epitomizes our hyper-capitalist, consumerist, and frenetic society, Thanksgiving is its antithesis.
Thanksgiving is a national celebration that serves to remind us how blessed we are at a time when circumstances are so cruel for so many others in a world in which there are more refugees than at any time since the end of World War II. Despite our own trials and tribulations, Thanksgiving reminds us how remarkably fortunate we are to live in this country. And in a day and age when so many of us are connected 24/7 to some instrument of communication, it truly is a relief to have a day when we can just shut it all off (other than perhaps watching a football game.)
We wish all of our readers a happy — and restful — Thanksgiving.