I always thought it is a fitting coincidence that Veterans Day falls in November, right before Thanksgiving.
As you know, Veterans Day is celebrated in other parts of the world. On November 11, 1918, at 11 am (Paris time), the Germans signed the Armistice that officially ended World War I. The day was originally celebrated as Armistice Day (also as Remembrance Day in Europe). In 1954, the U.S. Congress passed and amended an act to officially make November 11 the Veterans Day, honoring all veterans, and not just those who served in World War I. What took them so long?!
I don’t think I will be able to say anything more eloquently, more heartfelt, than this blog post, “The Greatest Casualty is to be Forgotten“. As she put it so well, you don‘t have to support war to support a Veteran.
Thus begins my tirade against the demise of the significance of Thanksgiving in the face of overwhelming commercialism…
Are you ready for this?
I started campaigning for a forced postponement, a temporary deferral, of celebrating Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving Day four years ago. I even registered for the domain name: BringBackThanksgiving.com (which is still available… Any takers?) I stopped paying for it after two years when I realized that with a full time job and three boys to take care of, I simply did not have the capacity to deal with Microsoft FrontPage. (Yikes. Do you remember the days, the days before Blogger, WordPress, etc. when one had to use a software such as FrontPage in order to have one’s own website? *shudder*)
“Curb your enthusiasm!” I beseech you. “As you recover from the sugar high from all the Halloween candies. As you dispose of the spider webs, the goblins, the mummy tombs, the rotten carved pumpkins.”
Please, oh, please don’t switch directly from Orange and Black to Red and Green. However tempting it is when you move all the Halloween boxes down to your basement and see all the Christmas boxes beckoning at you. The smiling Santa with the chubby cheeks. The snowman. The reindeer. Resist the temptation: Didn’t Jesus die on the cross partly to teach us this lesson? Be strong for the sake of your children.
The children need you to show them that, Yes, you believe in the meaning and significance of Thanksgiving Day. Yes, it is important that we take one day out to deliberately remember and show gratitude to all the people who add meanings to our lives, to all the material goods that we are blessed enough to own. To strangers who give you a smile in the street and thus brighten your day. To strangers who by merely doing their jobs are making the world a better, safer place.
My heart aches upon seeing houses adorned with Christmas lights right after, sometimes even before, Halloween. Of course I am not intimating that the homeowners are therefore not thankful. No siree. I am simply dismayed that the significance of Thanksgiving, the arguably ONE holiday that we should all be able to agree on and celebrate, is undermined sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas.
(I admit: I may be putting my foot in my mouth by saying this. I have no clear idea how the native Americans take this holiday though I suspect there must be a lot of conflicting feelings. Do they sometimes wish that Squanto were not so kind as to assist the pilgrims? FWIW, by reading “Thanksgiving: A Native American View” and “Teaching About Thanksgiving“, I am convinced that Thanksgiving is indeed deeper and bigger than just the Pilgrims and the Indians… I hope I do not offend should anyone of Native American descent stops by this post…)
I blame the turkey.
You heard me right. It is the turkey’s fault. In terms of merchandising, turkeys are just not as attractive as say, bunnies, chicks, Santa Clause, snowman, reindeer, and so on. I have not seen any child hugging a plush Turkey toy lovingly.
To be honest, that red thing hanging down the throat freaks me out. Pardon me for being crass, but it always reminds me of testicles. I don’t know why. But it does.
Many, especially Hallmark (bless their heart!), have tried to turn the turkey into an adorable icon: but seriously, how adorable can you make a turkey?
Even more sickening is that in these cutesy depictions of turkeys, they are all forced to celebrate the event in which they will be slaughtered, cooked and eaten! The abomination!
No cute icons, no easy way for merchandising. No easy way for merchandising, no rampant commidification of Thanksgiving. No rampant commidification of Thanksgiving, no shelf space at your local drugstores and grocery stores.
(I am grateful for no longer being in the academia which affords me the opportunity to posit theories full of holes and preaches them on the Internet with no qualms… I am like Glenn Beck on an anti-Turkey path…)
But with your help, we can stem the tide. We can start it from inside of our homes.
Perhaps we can all start a tradition of having each one of the family members mention one thing that they are grateful for, every day, in the month of November. No matter how small or how trivial.
Perhaps we can start a quiet movement to resist the Red and Green color scheme from popping up inside of our own houses. Until the day after Thanksgiving.
On the morning of November 27 this year, I am moving up the Christmas Tree from our basement first thing in the morning. I am really looking forward to it. And to optimize my effort of transforming my house into a winter wonderland for Christmas, I shall keep the decorations up until after Valentine’s day. Thank goodness for the lllloooonnnngggg winter here. That is, of course, until one of you starts a campaign for bringing back Valentine’s Day…