Do they roast Duck or Goose or turkey? Do they eat until their buttons pop? Do they have 10 different pies for 8 people? Do they take an afternoon snooze while watching football?
Oh that's right, Thanksgiving is an American holiday! The Indians and settlers came together to give praise to God for blessing them with food to eat and the freedom to live and worship in this new world. It has become such a major holiday that it's easy to forget how special it is to the United States. In fact it has become so ritual we feel wrong or sinful to not celebrate in some fashion on this sacred day. It is part of our calendars, our seasonal time clock, and work schedules (aka vacation time). It is so ingrained that when my friend said "I'm so excited, November starts the season of Christmas Markets in Ireland!" I immediately thought, "Before Thanksgiving!?"
As Americans our seasonal clocks follow according to the publicity of our holidays. The stores put out Halloween decorations in September, Thanksgiving decorations in October, Christmas in October (which is the new November), and New Years decorations in December. We follow the routine and look forward to the sequential seasonal frenzy.
So what happens if there is no Thanksgiving? What do other countries do during November without Turkey Day?
As my friend pointed out, Christmas gets to start early. Why not? There is no other celebration blocking the ultimate holiday. Ireland opens their Christmas markets in November, which in some European countries can last up to nearly two months. TWO MONTHS of holiday cheer, holiday goodies, holiday music, holiday gifts, and holiday fun. In South American countries November is known for Día de los Muertos, which is a rich Spanish Catholic tradition in which they honor their deceased relatives. Families gather and celebrate much like a Thanksgiving feast, but with a more solemn undertone. Then they go right into December celebrating much of the Christian calendar events such as the immaculate conception within the Virgin Mary, Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, and Christmas Eve/ Day.
Is this the cause of the earlier and earlier commercialization of Christmas? Do American companies feel behind schedule as their foreign competitors get a jump on Christmas decorations and products? Is this why Black Friday has creeped into the day of Thanksgiving?
With more and more stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving or the eve of Thanksgiving for "early door busters" many families are cutting their get togethers short just to get in line for Christmas shopping deals. But, no matter how soon toy and holiday decode companies push their products, Thanksgiving still comes first. This important American holiday should not be taken for granted and not shadowed by the upcoming holiday hoopla. How lucky are we that our country has set aside a day for all Americans to count our blessings, join together with family and friends, and stuff our faces with some of the best food of the year. How often do you cook a turkey or goose outside of Thanksgiving? When do you veg around with cousins playing games and watching movies for a whole day? How many dinners do you include prayers that include everything you are thankful for?
I hope you are blessed this Thanksgiving, and are able to join with your family in a day of praise and joy. When you count your blessings on this day, remember to add one more: be thankful you are part of this great country of America because otherwise you would be starting the Christmas craziness already.