Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Randomness

Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday … all terms representing the increased commercialism of holidays that began as celebrations rooted in survival and religion. Here are a few random thoughts on the season:

When did Thanksgiving begin? According to the History Channel web site: "In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies."

Turkey and pumpkin pie are two traditional menu items in contemporary Thanksgiving feasts but the ‘first Thanksgiving’ feast most likely consisted of deer, seafood and corn and probably no desert.

Thanksgiving was celebrated many times and in many ways after that but did not become an official American holiday till 1863, in the middle of the Civil War. President Abe Lincoln’s proclamation asked “all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

On one hand we celebrate survival and community. On the other, we celebrate a culture that invaded a huge section of sparsely-populated land, ran off the existing residents as if they weren’t there and claimed the whole place as “new” and available for the taking. How would we feel if some country did that today? Just sayin’. We did turn out to be a great country, largely dedicated to human rights; but the price was pretty damn high, in my opinion.

People who experience holiday depression usually begin their suffering right before Thanksgiving Day. If they were lucky enough to grow up in a stable family with established holiday rituals and are now adults with instability in their lives, the mismatch between expectations and reality is sad and frustrating. It is natural to try and recreate their childhood celebrations. Sometimes it takes decades to finally find a way to accept the disconnect and to create new traditions.

The last time I went shopping the day after Thanksgiving was more than 10 years ago. Back then, 7:00 am was considered an early time to open. Now there are ads for 5 am, 4 am, even 3 am openings. But I just saw an ad for the one that now gets my WTF Award … Toys R Us is opening at 10:30 the night before! Take THAT Kohl’s, Macy’s and Penney’s!

This Thanksgiving will be especially awkward for me and my close friends know why. But I am determined to make the most of it and I plan to spend more time smiling than crying. My three incredibly awesome Border Collies will help in that effort.

I am thankful for good health, a great job and wonderful friends. All of my friends are great, but the three that stand out have helped me in ways I have trouble finding the words for. In this blog I can only call them Louisiana, North Carolina and Wisconsin, but they know who they are and they know I love them.

OK, enough of the sentimental stuff. If you are travelling for Thanksgiving and are planning to fly, CLICK HERE for some timely fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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