In Defense of Thanksgiving

In Defense of Thanksgiving

This week a local radio station made its annual switch to all Christmas music, all the time. For me, it’s just too early. Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping season, and the first Sunday of Advent is the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Isn’t that soon enough to start hanging lights, erecting trees and listening to “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch?”

Thanksgiving is a perfectly good holiday. And while it’s not explicitly a religious holiday, it’s hard to find a religious tradition that doesn’t see thankfulness as a virtue.  In fact, I’d argue that gratitude is underrated in American culture. We spend so much of our time wanting, getting, striving and working, that we easily forget that life, our talents, our relationships — these are all gifts. And to not recognize a gift is rather rude and unkind (at least that’s what my Mom always said). A thankful spirit would do us well throughout the year, and yet, it seems that the one holiday focused on gratitude looks fairly anemic beside the Christmas season.

Other holidays don’t have this sort of trouble defending their turf. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to worry about the greenery of St. Patrick’s Day overlapping the red flowers and boxes of candies. Independence Day isn’t in danger of being overwhelmed by Labor Day. But humble Thanksgiving is forced to listen to Christmas music for a full two weeks before its big day.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Advent. I enjoy hearing and singing Christmas music. The parties, the gift-giving, the pumpkin pie (especially the pumpkin pie) — it’s all wonderful.

All I’m asking is that we give Thanksgiving it’s space. Let it have it’s time in the spotlight. Recognize that we are better people when we are grateful.

If your year has been anything like mine, it’s been crazy. We’ve had serious illness, economic stress, job transition, and a chaotic world. And yet, I’m still here — enjoying what I do, surrounded by a wonderful family, great friends, and a terrific church.

And for that reason, my radio will avoid the Christmas station a few days more, so I can remember and give thanks.

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