Let’s just get this on record: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
Growing up, I was fortunate enough to live in the same city (Portland, Ore.) as all but one of my aunts and uncles and grandparents, meaning that the entirety of most of my Thanksgiving experiences involved walking to one of my aunts’ houses, stuffing my face and trying to stay awake through the halftime of whatever football game was on. It’s always been a simple, consistent affair, which is what makes Turkey Day so dang great.
Thanksgiving is about being with the people you care about. Eating food with said people. And, to a lesser, certainly more modern extent, watching the television with said people. Football’s a popular choice, but Thanksgiving with the Murrays often involves a good dose of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
It’s a simple formula.
There are no presents. No anxiety over what to get whom (which is stressful, very stressful … thank God for iTunes gift cards) or having to act overly excited when you’re receiving a gift (surprisingly difficult, even when it’s something you want). Lacking the gift component of birthdays and Christmas, Thanksgiving has mostly managed to avoid being hijacked by mass consumerism, thriving in its single day of purity.
Despite the history, there’s no real modern religious bent (though certainly a national one).
There’s no magical, enigmatic mascot (i.e the (spoiler alert) Easter Bunny, Santa Claus).
You don’t have to sit on anyone’s lap.
You don’t really have to decorate.
There’s simply very little hoopla, very little trivial, very little controversial. It’s food, it’s friends, it’s family, it’s genuine. It’s a quiet holiday (once you’re outside the airport).
Which is why, I must admit, that I was subtly worried, in the very postmodern, academic, Walmart-makes-me-shiver kind of way, when I came home for break to find coupons and cutouts and full-page advertisements scattered across the dining room table, Thanksgiving Day sales commercials competing with the Oregon rain to see which mindless noise would provide the background for the Pacific Northwest’s November soundtrack.
It’s no secret that Black Friday has been moving in on my holiday for years, in a campaign that continues to become more aggressive year in and year out, long ago breaking through the old midnight-opening standards, breaching the sacred lines that separated Turkey Day from the onslaught of pre-holiday consumer fanaticism. The rising prominence of Thanksgiving Day football is bringing with it its customary slew of advertisements and broadcasting endorsements. It’s slowly becoming acceptable to have the TV on during Thanksgiving dinner.
But while a younger, much angstier John may have panicked at this realization, I’m really not that worried. The coupons and advertisements are easily moved when it’s time to set the table for dinner; the TV will surely be turned off once food is served. Until my turkey comes pre-stuffed with Toys”R”Us coupons or packaged with complimentary Target gift cards, I will have faith in the forces of Thanksgiving tradition, simplicity and genuineness.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.