Monday, November 26, 2007

Why I Love Thanksgiving

photo credit-urtica

creative commons license

I've been in a bit of a blogging slump lately. Part of it is having some problems with Buddy Boy that are consuming some time and energy, part is just general busyness, and part is just not feeling like I had anything to say.

Kim over at MommyHood - The Adventures of Kim and Alex wrote an entry yesterday on The culture of too much, which I largely agreed with. She did a good job of highlighting how all the people that try to sell us stuff have over commercialized Christmas, and we (collectively) fall for this hook, line, and sinker. I like Kim's blog, as it is both real and funny as all get out. But one thing in her post got to me. She lumped my favorite holiday of the year, Thanksgiving, in with this.

First, Kim complains about traveling over Thanksgiving:

First, there’s too much travel. Too many lineups, too much need to travel from one of the country to the other for the weekend. If you ask anyone what time of the year that they wouldn’t want to be at the airport, it would be Thanksgiving weekend.

While I admit that flying over Thanksgiving is not something that ANYONE would like to do, what's so bad about people wanting to reconnect with family to celebrate and give thanks? I can think of lots of worse ways to spend a weekend. Too often we get caught up in our own little lives, and the day to day running about. It's nice to dedicate a day to getting together with loved ones, having a good time, and giving thanks for all the good that we have in our lives. In the past this meant going down the road to gather at a relative's house. Now it may mean driving hundreds of miles or flying thousands. Such is the byproduct of a very mobile society. But I see it as a good thing that we still make the effort to maintain these familial connections, even though greater effort is involved.

Next, Kim attacks the menu:

Then there’s Thanksgiving itself. Too much food, too much turkey, too much football. There’s a code that needs to be followed in order to have a proper Thanksgiving. Turkey? Check. Stuffing? Check. Cranberry sauce? Check. Pumpkin pie? Check. Do you eat these foods at any other time of the year, other than potentially Christmas? Probably not, because these are identified as Thanksgiving foods.

The Thanksgiving menu is one of my favorites. I would eat this menu every week, if I could. I would, however, then weigh upwards of 450 lbs (205 kg./32 stone). I'm always sorry when the leftover turkey runs out. Also the leftover pumpkin pie.

The menu of what Americans eat at Thanksgiving is also very regionally based. Although there are some staples (as mentioned above) that most people have, there are a lot of regional variations, both in what other items are on the menu, as well as how the items are prepared. I once heard a man interviewed on the radio that had studied this. He claimed to not only be able to tell you the region of the country you were in by what was on your Thanksgiving menu, in some cases he could pinpoint the actual county that you resided in. That's pretty impressive.

Sure, I overate with everyone else on Thursday. I know that that's not a good thing, from a health standpoint. But I see overeating with family one day a year a lot less harmful than the commercialization of Christmas.

Thanksgiving is a holiday that I don't have to worry about offending people. With Christmas, I always have to think first about wishing someone Merry Christmas, so as not to inadvertently offend them (if they're not Christian). With Thanksgiving, I have no such constraints. How can anyone object to being thankful?

Thanksgiving is the holiday that has been the least commercialized. Sure, it's good for the airlines and those who produce turkey and cranberry sauce. And Hallmark and others sell some greeting cards. But beyond that, there isn't very much commercial hype involved. In fact, I think that of all of our holidays, Thanksgiving is one that people from a hundred years ago would most identify as being similar to how they celebrated. So, you can diss what they've done to Christmas, but don't mess with Thanksgiving.


Maddy said...

After 12 years here I actually prefer Thanksgiving to Christmas!

As for the Christmas nightmare, I read an 'American Classic'[?] a few years ago called something like 'pulling the plug on Christmas.'

It's basic message was to examine what elements are important to you about that holiday and then drop everything else.

One thing I particularly liked about it is that it acknowledged that it's the mum's and their family traditions that are usually most prominent and Dad's get pushed out of the loop. If both parents include the things that are important to them, then a whole new tradition is started that is more meaningful for both.

It was about that time that I also told the children that Father Christmas only brought 3 presents and a stocking for each of them. They believed me! Since we have two birthdays in December by New year we look like a toy store so thing little step made a big difference.

So Happy thanksgiving
Best wishes

Ange said...

I'm with you! I love Thanksgiving. Love love LOVE it. I love the warmth of the foods, family just spending time together. No pressure about having to spend tons of money to participate. No kids expecting presents. Well Bubba asked if there were any Thanksgiving presents, but was OK when we told him no.

And I make a simple Thanksgiving meal in the cool spring as well because I decided, why can't I eat my favorite foods together on a different day?

Have a wonderful holiday season, and be thankful every day of the year! ;)

wskrz said...

Love your blog too, hon. ;-D

Lemme explain something that may have gotten lost in translation in my blog post...

I don't hate Thanksgiving. I like Pumpkin Pie. A lot. Okay, probably too much...but my past experiences with Thanksgiving come from a different country altogether. Thanksgiving in the US is punished for being so close to Christmas and is considered to be the official start of the Christmas season. In Canada, we celebrate it the first Monday (not Thursday) in October so we have a lot of time to recover before being hit over the head with Christmas by the retailers. And there are no Day After Thanksgiving sales and lineups at 4 am in the morning because we just don't have that.

And I certainly don't object to anyone being thankful. But we shouldn't limit ourselves to being thankful on just one day of the year. As Ange said above, we should be thankful every day of the year.


kristina said...

I did have a period in my teenage years when I was really fed up (sorry about the pun) with Thanksgiving. This was when I was on the road to becoming a vegetarian---all the excess of the holiday bothered me. But then one has a child, and for Charlie, it's been so important to mark the days with holidays and familiar rituals and traditions; this year was a lot of fun, as we cooked at home (so I got to see Charlie sitting before the turkey as if to say, all mine!). Afraid I didn't get it together enough to make a casein-free pumpkin pie though.

Daisy said...

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Maybe it's because my birthday is always the same week; maybe it's because we gather as a family and really enjoy each other. This year, maybe it's because...oh, I give in, because the Packers beat the heck out of Detroit!
I'll take my thankfulness wherever I can get it, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'm a student and I can't justify going home for Thanksgiving because it's so close to Christmas. I love cooking for Thanksgiving, but I can't afford to fly home for $350, go back to school for two weeks, and fly home again for $350 for Christmas break.

Thanksgiving love said...

Happy thanksgiving to you and your family

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