Thanksgiving Day, 1994
Thanksgiving is a peculiarly North American holiday. Originating amongst the early Pilgrim settlers, it is each year officially declared by the President of the United States as a national day of thanksgiving. Contrarily, Canadians celebrate the holiday on a different date. It is a day set aside for celebrating not only a successful harvest, but as one for giving thanks to God for His bounty. Commonly, it is a day for religious observance and family reunion. It forms one of a string of celebrations continuing through the New Year. The beginning of the "holiday season," was at one time marked by Thanksgiving. The following day was, and still is, the most important shopping day of the year, initiating the exhausting potlatch of Christmas. Municipal decorations went up, shops exchanged their red, gold and brown displays of turkeys, Autumn leaves and pumpkins for Yuletide red and green.
I don't recollect much from my youth in the way of Halloween greeting cards. I believe they are a new thing, relatively speaking. Five years ago the city of Alameda began putting up Christmas decorations the day after Halloween. Sandwiched between two important commercial holidays, the gluttonous, inexpensive, homely Thanksgiving is finding itself squeezed out. There's not much lead-up, no real anticipation of mysteries and delights. Not much preparation except for a traditional meal and getting together with friends and family. Most people don't really enjoy being with their families, and do it only out of obligation. Together but not together, they sit and watch football until dinner time, vaguely communing via flickering images of huge men in super-masculine get-up beating each other to a pulp.
Less important each year, Thanksgiving may at some future time find itself a quaint relic among the elderly, who greedily anticipate the ceremonial meal, unchanging since their youth. It will likely be celebrated on a Monday, making a predictable three-day weekend where a chaotic four-day once untidily interfered. "Turkey day," they might still call it, forgetting entirely as they gum their over-generous portions of mutated, hormone-gorged bird, mystery-stuffing, textureless cranberry sauce, reconstituted powdered yams and mashed potatoes, chemical gravy, and watery ersatz pumpkin pie that there was once anything more to it than a special meal and a football game. Then even that will be gone. There won't even be any left-overs.
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