Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thanksgiving: The 90-Pound Weakling of Holidays

Is he really saying, "Eat me?"
Recently, my swell pal Suldog wrote a lengthy rant about how the over-commercialization of Christmas has infringed upon the respect and attention that he feels should be given to Thanksgiving.  He's called this piece, and the resulting political movement, "Thanksgiving Comes First."  The basic premise is that we shouldn't begin the Christmas hoopla (in-store marketing displays, TV commercials, etc.) until after everyone's done their Thanksgiving dinner dishes and the Detroit Lions have lost their annual Turkey Day game.

I'll admit that I agree with Suldog's sentiments to a point.  I'm not crazy about hearing "Sleigh Ride" pumping through the speakers at my local supermarket in October.  Hell, I live in Southern California where it doesn't even feel like Christmas on Christmas, let alone Columbus Day.  But I don't think we can blame the supermarket management for this, nor can we pin the yearly Thanksgiving neglect on toy companies, advertising agencies, or whoever's in charge of when "A Charlie Brown Christmas" airs.  No, Thanksgiving is its own worst enemy, and there are several reasons why it has become the 90-pound weakling of holidays.

The simplest, of course, is that Thanksgiving is chronologically-disadvantaged, sandwiched between the two most popular and marketable days of the entire year -- Halloween and Christmas.  Even the lesser holidays like Valentine's Day, the Fourth of July, and Easter benefit from being somewhat isolated on the calendar, although Easter struggles a bit because no one is quite sure when it's coming.  April?  March?  The day before Memorial Day?  Who the hell knows?  But Thanksgiving has a better holiday four weeks ahead of it and a month or so behind it.  It's kind of like the Three Stooges, Christmas and Halloween are Moe and Curly, Thankgiving is Shemp.

The next problem Thanksgiving faces is that there's really not much to it.  Halloween is all about costumes, spookiness, parties and candy.  Christmas, of course, is full of presents, family gatherings, traditional songs, and endless merriment and good will.  What does Thanksgiving bring to the table?  Turkey, cranberry sauce, indigestion, and a couple football games.  Hell, Christmas has everything that Thanksgiving has.  Every year, my family gets together for a huge Christmas dinner of turkey (or sometimes ham), mashed potatoes, that casserole made from green beans and crispy noodles, and Grandma's lemon cheese pie, just like we do on Thanksgiving.  And on top of all that, we get to exchange gifts and listen to the Frank Sinatra Christmas Album.  Put another way, Thanksgiving is merely Christmas without the presents which, unless you live in Whoville, kind of sucks.

So the question becomes, how do we help Thanksgiving earn its proper respect?  I think the first thing we need to do is move it the hell out of November.  Pack up the horns o' plenty and the Indian corn in a huge U-Haul and relocate to the second Thursday in September.  Sure, that puts it a week after Labor Day, but who cares?  Using our Stooges analogy again, Labor Day isn't even Curly Joe, it's more like Moe's second cousin Phil who hated slapstick comedy so he became a plumber.  With Thanksgiving in September, it gets to lead off the fall-winter festivities, building up to Halloween and Christmas.

Next, we need to come up with a Thanksgiving representative, a character who is instantly recognizable and lovable.  Christmas has Santa Claus, Halloween has witches and goblins, Easter has the giant bunny, Valentine's Day has Cupid, even the Fourth of July invites Uncle Sam to the barbecue.  Thanksgiving, though, has absolutely no one banging its proverbial drum.  The closest you'll see is a turkey wearing a pilgrim's hat, but let's be honest here.  The turkey can't possibly be the Thanksgiving rep because by the end of the day he's DEAD!  Not exactly the most festive of all outcomes.  What do you think the reaction would be if every Easter, families got together and slow-roasted a rabbit?  "Say, Jimmy, would you like a leg or an ear?"
James O'Thankful says, "Have another drumstick!"

So the turkey is out.  But what if we named an official Thanksgiving Pilgrim, a suave, smooth-talking guy named James O'Thankful (he's part Irish, go with it) who shows up on Thanksgiving Night with extra gravy and a few seasonal trinkets, and reminds your family of everything it should be thankful for.  Love, health, happiness, the fact that Christmas is just a few months away (we've moved to September, remember?).

I think that would be a good start.

In the meantime, Thanksgiving will have to deal with Christmas and Halloween poking it in the eyes and cracking it over the head with baseball bats.

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.


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Heidi Olivia Tan said...

"Och! You bad laddie" - James O'Thankful
Nevertheless I had a good laugh at your nonsense. Nothing to beat Monday blues with a bit of knucklehead knock-ya-head-about.

So. Cal. Gal said...

I love Thanksgiving (even though I hate turkey) but I hate Halloween and Christmas...especially Christmas. Buying presents for people you only see once a year?

I'd rather eat turkey.

Jonah Gibson said...

Used to be the Christmas stuff didn't come out until the day after Thanksgiving. Now the commercialization is starting in September. Of course you can save time by doing your Christmas and back-to-school shopping on the same trip. The music is the worst part. If I hear 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer' one more time I'm gonna kill somebody. Prolly not really in the spirit of the Season.

Eva Gallant said...

Good post, Chris! Gives one pause. I like the idea of back-to-school shopping and Christmas shopping on the same trip. Saves gas!

Suldog said...

OK, first off, Thanksgiving is Larry. Just as the seasoned and mature Stooges fan knows that it often pays off to watch Larry, even though he's often in the background and seemingly not doing anything, so it is with Thanksgiving. It's a quiet sort of holiday, but rewarding nevertheless.

(I'm a big fan of Shemp, too, so no offense really taken. And Moe's cousin Phil was a jerk, so I appreciate that part of this.)

The idea of a better mascot is intriguing, and being Irish is always a plus. However, if we move Thanksgiving to September, that means the Christmas ads would start in August. The only thing keeping them even slightly in check is Thanksgiving being where it is.

Despite my misgivings - and the fact that you didn't include the line I expected (which reference nobody reading this comment will understand, of course) - this will be included in the next round-up of TCF posts. That may or may not be something for which you're thankful, but since you diss the entire concept, I don't give a damn, OK?

BTW, my word veri is "fecater", which sounds vaguely shitty.

If I were god said...

I was just about to make the point that the Lions have become a good team and you can't expect them to lose again this year -until I checked the shedule. They have the Super Bowl champ (not to mention undefeated) Packers. That's a turkey bone big enough to choke a lion.

Anonymous said...

" the end of the he's DEAD! Not exactly the most festive of all outcomes."


You're a zombie.

Just sayin'.

hee hee

And I can't stop staring at Jim O'Thankees outfit.

It's intriguing to say the least.

You just might be onto something here!

heh heh

Steve Bailey said...

huh? Good points.... even the easter bunny somehow leaves eggs with candy in them?.... so.... maybe The Supreme Turkey (patent pending) can leave gifts of porn and electronics? Who wouldn't look forward to that?

Mariann Simms said...

He looks kinda creepy to me - and I think those aren't so much buckles on his shoes as mirrors so he can look up those long pilgrim dresses.

Fred Miller said...

Poor Shemp. I always turned the channel if Shemp was on.

Hey, best part of Thanksgiving: Wild Turkey.

Suldog said...


Bella said...

now I'm going have to check out suldog, you guys crack me up!

Fragrant Liar said...

I don't even know when T-Day is either. It moves around like all the Easter eggs. But I like that it's sandwiched (heh) between the fall biggies, and that it's less pretentious, and especially that it is an actual holiday, unlike V-Day.

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