Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The War on Thanksgiving

Every year at this time, for what seems like decades now, conservatives led by FOX News trot out the old “War on Christmas” script. That’s where they whine that every assertion of the First Amendment by those who don’t want religious displays on public property and every “Happy Holidays” from a retailer is an assault on America, Jesus and Mom. This year, Sarah Palin even came out with a whole “book” whining about the deadly assault on all that’s holy. Of course, Christmas remains immensely popular, even celebrated by non-Christians throughout America. Because even if you don’t believe in Jesus, getting and giving presents and celebrating with your family is FUN. Duh.

Meanwhile, in their ever-present drive for more profits, large retail corporations have been moving the hyped up Black Friday shopping day closer and closer to and recently even into Thanksgiving Day. This year, many retailers such as Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Kmart are open for all or most of Thanksgiving, taking their workers away from their families and friends so they can sell stuff. Sure, they get paid a bit more, but what are they being asked to give up?

I think Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays. For me, it ranks third behind Halloween and Christmas on my list of favorites. When I was a kid, we would gather with my Mom’s family for Thanksgiving dinner. My Mom had lots of brothers and sisters and they rotated the hosting duties so Thanksgiving was always a great time with my many cousins. We played games, watched movies, ran around, and ate and ate. Thanksgiving with the family was more pure than Christmas because you didn’t have the distraction of the whole exchange of gifts; it was all about being with the family. Now, for many families, Thanksgiving is becoming just another day at work.

I don’t believe that conservatives are deliberating sabotaging Thanksgiving, it’s just collateral damage. The constant pushing and pushing of Christmas has led to its expansion into all of December and inevitably into November. By pretending that Christmas is coming to harm, conservatives are actually harming an American holiday. Retailers have taken advantage of the social pressure and used it to expand business directly into what used to be a sacrosanct time with family. If not for the relentless ideological drive in favor of Christmas, they wouldn’t have any justification for doing so.

Shame on them and shame on us for encouraging it by shopping on Thanksgiving.

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