Monday, November 2, 2015

Apologies to Thanksgiving

Dear Thanksgiving,

Effective November 1st, all stores have officially transitioned from Halloween to Christmas. I would like to thoroughly apologize on behalf of American culture for, once again, forgetting all about you. I know this may sound insincere, but truly: it's not you, it's us.

Part of the problem is placement. Despite your great significance and firm roots in American history, unfortunately, you are nestled between Halloween and Christmas, which have both transitioned from somewhat modest holidays grounded in old religious and cultural traditions to grand displays of secular commercialism (just be glad you aren't Chanukah, or Ramadan-- they get even less cultural love than you). Let's face it, Thanksgiving: they are big, sparkly and fun, celebrated with lots of parties and freebies. You are old money; they are Gatsby. It isn't your fault that they suck up all of the attention, but there isn't really anything you can do about it, either. Sorry.

Another reason why we tend to slight you is cost. Halloween is a lot of effort, and has become quite expensive. We can't just buy some candy, flip on the light, hand it out to some cute kids in plastic tie-on costumes purchased at the drugstore, turn everything off when the candy's gone, and go to bed. No, the costumes are now either extravagant hand-made Cosplay or pricey Party City fare that clearly costs at least $40 a yard of fabric (or lack thereof). We have to decorate now, too: giant spiders (I'm looking at you, neighbors, and I really resent your 5-foot tarantula), sticky webs, orange sparkle lights, gravestones, mummies, skeletons, etc. At least $100 in candy must be purchased to avoid getting "tricked" by "children" varying in age from 0-60, and we haven't even discussed the cost of booze and snacks for parties. By the time November 1st rolls around, we're so broke that it's time to save for Christmas, and we all know what a financial burden that is. 

Another real problem here is time. To put it bluntly: we're exhausted from Halloween, and we now have less than two months until Christmas. I'm stressed just thinking about it. The retailers enjoy reminding of this fact hourly, with their cheerful "15 shopping days until Christmas!" countdowns and snappy jingles. You used to be a lovely little break in the chaos, but now, thanks to the miracle of commercialism, we can forego acknowledging you entirely in favor of that new little pseudo-holiday upstart "Black Friday" who has seriously encroached on your space.

Look, I really enjoy you. Having a few days off to give thanks for our blessings and remember the historical coming together that saved our colonists' asses so many years ago is really kind of amazing, especially when life seems to move at ever more frantic a pace. Taking time to reflect upon what is truly important to us, to our families, to each other, and to just sit together and be grateful for what we have, in every way that is important to us, is not something we can honor by putting giant sparkling pilgrims in our yard or dressing like hookers, but that doesn't make it any less valuable. We may not exchange physical gifts, but sitting down with those we love and giving them our time and attention-- two of the most elusive commodities in our fast-paced society-- are probably the best gifts we can share with one another. And need I mention that you come with turkey and pie? What are people thinking?!

Thanksgiving, I, for one, promise to do better this year. As much as I love these other holidays, this year I vow to push Christmas off just a little longer so that when you come around, we can really enjoy hanging out. As much as I like that Black Friday guy, I'm not letting him have my Thanksgiving Thursday. I and my family are going to hang out in our pajamas and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, enjoy a hearty meal, and above all, remember that the world needs a little more gratitude and a little less marketing. 

Maybe if we all slow down and spend a little more time being grateful for what we have and less time worrying about what we don't, we can all achieve some true peace. 

All the love,

Kim Vandervort

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