Thanksgiving: the Neglected Holiday

In this day and age, the fourth Thursday of November often gets brushed aside.

Straight from jack-o’-lanterns to jingle bells

By 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31, the Christmas season has already begun. In stores all across America, employees pack away their Halloween decorations. Jack-o’-lanterns are traded for wreaths, and that giant mechanical skeleton is replaced by a jolly mechanical Santa Claus. In the next few days, it’s inevitable that at least one of your friends will interrupt a conversation simply to belt out a Christmas song. By the middle of November, people will be rambling on about their Christmas lists. College students everywhere will be facing the same dilemma of how – with their student loans and dwindling bank accounts – they are still going to get gifts for all their friends this year. Everything will be hot cocoa and peppermint and jingle bells.

But what about turkey and stuffing and that pie sent from heaven itself? Oh yeah, that holiday. The one where the whole family gets together, eats a lot of food, watches football and attempts to navigate multiple conversations without mentioning politics: Thanksgiving.

At most, the Thanksgiving spirit lasts for only one day. One day of talking, eating and wishing you hadn’t eaten so much. After Grandpa has claimed the last piece of pumpkin pie and Mom has stashed the leftover turkey, it’s time to strategize for Black Friday. Which sales offer the best prices for the perfect Christmas present? Thanksgiving itself occupies so little of our time that it’s almost as if it’s barely there at all.

A holiday out of touch with the times?

It seems that our country has buried Thanksgiving. We skip straight from getting candy on Halloween to getting presents on Christmas. It’s all about the “get, get, get” and the “buy, buy, buy.” Constantly, Americans search for happiness through what they purchase and what they receive. Yet, despite having more than they ever have had in all of history, they are more dissatisfied than they have ever been in all of history. Seeking to satisfy their spiritual cravings with material possessions, most Americans are left with a superficial happiness that takes more than it gives.

Thanksgiving doesn’t belong in this consumeristic culture. Certainly, people buy a lot of food, and they hope that the food will satisfy them, but the food is not the core of this holiday. Thanksgiving is not supposed to be a time for getting or buying, but for pausing – for reflecting on the things that you have been blessed with. Because Americans don’t recognize these things as blessings, they find it hard to feel thankful. To them, Thanksgiving serves little purpose.

A Christian perspective

As Christians, we are called to be thankful daily, not just during Thanksgiving. As we are part of a consumeristic culture, however, thankfulness often gets swept aside. Thanksgiving should be one of our most cherished holidays – a time when we are thankful for Christ’s birth and resurrection apart from the secular distractions of Santa and the Easter Bunny. This autumn, remember the things you have, not the things you wish to have. Remember the stuffing, not the stockings. And remember the fourth Thursday of November for more than just one day.

Kathryn Funk is a contributor to The Daily Runner.