Is it me or does Thanksgiving seem to shrink more and more each year? To be sure it still falls on the 4th Thursday in November and it is still recognized as a National holiday. However it seems that the space the holiday has traditionally occupied within our consciousness is being challenged more than ever before. Thanksgiving used to loom as large or nearly as large as Christmas for many people. Recently Thanksgiving while still one of the most traveled holidays of the year is getting the big squeeze.
Between focusing on Halloween, travel plans, sporting events, Black Friday and the Christmas and holiday season; Thanksgiving seems to be losing its seat at the holiday table. Recently retailers such as Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s and Kmart announced plans to open for shopping as early as 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night for the first time. I suppose that is one way to work off Thanksgiving dinner but it doesn’t do much for quality family time.
It seems that we aren’t the only ones whose plates are full at Thanksgiving. With a typical day which includes a schedule for many of preparation for the Thanksgiving meal, three NFL games, Christmas movie debuts and Thanksgiving night shopping Thanksgiving’s plate of activities is overflowing. All of this of course is only possible if you haven’t already been standing in line at your local Best Buy for Black Friday shopping as some have been for over a week in Florida and Texas. A holiday that was once a respite from the hustle and bustle of our daily work, errand-running and shopping schedules, one that provided an extended amount of time to value family and friends has experienced role reversal and been placed as an item on a to-do list.
Growing up in my family and particularly my extended family, Thanksgiving, particularly the meal and the post meal group recovery was the main event and the destination. Between the initial family gathering and pre-meal prayers of Thanksgiving to Nana’s sweet potato pie and the board games with the family, I remember being not only full of food, but of family, fun and fellowship. Even though many of those Thanksgivings involved watching the Detroit Lions in the traditional NFL game, or eventually going to a movie, the memories I have of Thanksgivings past include funny family moments. I’m hard-pressed to recall what movie we went out to see or a shopping experience.
So this Thanksgiving let’s spend more time lingering at the dinner table in conversation, more time in the living room playing Taboo or Scattergories, more time sharing our life stories with our family and friends. In short, let’s spend more time enjoying the people and the tangible things who mean the most to us and less time caught up in the hustle and bustle of the next day and the next holiday. Through time spent with family and friends we have the opportunity to pause and gain perspective on those things that most important in life. At the end of the day what we remember most about Thanksgiving shouldn’t be shopping for Christmas.
The good news is these earlier store openings have sparked a pro-Thanksgiving backlash on Facebook and other sites. As we take our moments to reflect this Thanksgiving, let us take the time to enjoy the company of the people and places which mean so much to us.
What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions and memories?