Where is Thanksgiving?

Max Haslow

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As 2017 winds down as the years always do, with the first few flurries of snow ushering in Thanksgiving week, I am reminded of just how much commercialism has taken over the holidays. You’ve probably heard the jokes of how department stores will have their multitudinous Halloween decorations torn down and replaced with oodles of winter and Christmas themed paraphernalia quicker than one can switch the calendar to November.

The hyperbole of just how fast the world will turn on a heel from one holiday spirit to the next is quite humorous, but there is always at least some truth in jest. Everywhere you look, people who were humming, “This Is Halloween” and “Monster Mash” just days ago are now belting out Christmas carols, wearing ugly sweaters and festive socks a full month before anyone can put their advent calendars to good use.

But with just how ready our culture is to get into the mood of any holiday the marketing campaigns throw at us, it’s puzzling how Thanksgiving has simply fallen to the wayside. You don’t see anyone wearing clothes emblazoned with turkeys or pilgrims. Entire stores selling Thanksgiving merchandise don’t pop up in abandoned warehouses, and no characters of the holiday have become international icons of pop culture.

The celebration has long been overshadowed by its older brothers, to the point where Christmas is attempting a complete takeover of the the final Thursday of November. The infamous day of department store price slashing, Black Friday, has started to implement their Christmas sales a day early, forcing workers to miss spending time with their family just so their employers can earn a few more bucks. Even the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the one piece of televised notoriety for the holiday outside of a Charlie Brown TV special, has a grand finale of who else but Santa Claus atop his sleigh. It seems as though Thanksgiving has been passed by by popular culture, but perhaps that’s for the best.

While many other popular holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Independence Day have had their original messages of goodwill and appreciation completely tarnished in order for corporations to make more money off of them, Thanksgiving has stayed virtually untouched since Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday in 1863 at the requests of Sarah Josepha Hale. The story of the Mayflower landing at Plymouth Rock and the natives helping them live through the harsh New England winter, while incredibly whitewashed, has remained an integral part of the lore of the holiday. Celebrations of Thanksgiving are still about recreating the massive feast between the pilgrims and the natives, bringing together loved ones that we are, as the title of the holiday, thankful for. While organizations like Macy’s and the NFL have been able to elbow their way into the traditions of the holiday, Thanksgiving remains as a time capsule of the purest forms of the human spirit.

It is this purity that I find myself most thankful for this Thanksgiving. In a world where cynicism is in a constant battle with corporate greed come the holidays, this one day can act as a safe haven from all of the negative aspects of life. Perhaps it’s a copout to say that I’m thankful for Thanksgiving itself, but as I continue to grow and develop into an adult and become more aware of the dark, unfair reality of the world, having an oasis away from all of this madness is just what I need to get through the year. Have a happy Thanksgiving, Huskies.

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