Every year it’s the same old song and dance. The stores put out the Christmas stuff in late October, and people complain about how early it is. Then the radio stations play Christmas music right after Halloween, and people complain about how early it is. And every year I hear over and over again that it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! What about Thanksgiving? And all of these people come out of the woodwork to proclaim that they prefer Thanksgiving to Christmas. And I’m supposed to congratulate them on their fine taste in holidays.
Here’s the thing; if Thanksgiving were anything spectacular it wouldn’t be threatened by Christmas. But it’s really not very special. Hear me out.
What is Thanksgiving? It’s a day to eat a lot of good food with people you care about (hopefully). Do we honestly remember the pilgrims and the Indians? No, we do not. We aren’t honoring them with our feasting. We just set a day aside to eat until we burst. For some people, this happens all of the time. They eat a lot of food on a regular basis. So in that way, Thanksgiving is nothing special.
But what about giving thanks? Sure, the day may inspire some to be more thankful than usual. And yes, many charitable people and organizations use the day as a means to provide for the needy. But honestly, is that what you love about Thanksgiving? If it were, I have a feeling that you would be doing those things more than once a year.
People love to eat good food. That’s the selling point of Thanksgiving.
Now consider Christmas. It has a season, first of all. There is a Christmas season. There is a feel and a spirit to this season. It is captured in holiday music, decorations, and yes, movies. Christmas has hundreds and hundreds of songs and movies. Thanksgiving has Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and the Macy’s parade. There is no spirit of Thanksgiving beyond the day. And if you want to argue that there is a spirit of Thanksgiving, I would respond that the spirit of Christmas includes thanksgiving.
Christmas also has two awesome figures at the center. For the secular, Santa is the symbol of the holiday. He is giving and jolly. Children love him since he rewards them with presents. People dress up as him, and his picture pops up everywhere. For the Christians, Jesus is the figure at the center (hopefully). Christmas celebrates the moment in history when God humbled Himself and became a human baby for the sake of mankind’s salvation. This is the source of the joy and thanksgiving at Christmas. The living God came to live as one of us. Thanksgiving has a turkey.
Thanksgiving is about the big and delicious meal. But don’t we tend to eat the same type of big and delicious meal at Christmas anyway? You get the food on top of the gifts and the joy.
This leads me to believe that the battle between Christmas and Thanksgiving is more about what Thanksgiving isn’t than it is about what Thanksgiving is. Surely, people must not like the wonderful aspects of the Christmas season if they are placing it below a simple feast day.
So don’t have pity on Thanksgiving. Don’t humor it with your shallow praises. It is about the food. Appreciate it for what it is. Don’t befriend it, hoping to make Christmas jealous. Christmas is way too good to care.