There are many reasons I wonder if Thanksgiving is truly the forgotten holiday, or maybe it is just the real meaning of Thanksgiving that seems to be overlooked. And to take that a step further, what actually is the “real” meaning of Thanksgiving? If you look up Thanksgiving Day in the dictionary, it gives you a few sentences about its history. “Thanksgiving originated in the autumn of 1621 when Plymouth governor William Bradford invited neighboring Indians to join the Pilgrims for a three-day festival of recreation and feasting in gratitude for the bounty of the season, which had been partly enabled by the Indian’s advice”. When you look at what Thanksgiving originally was, a simple festival, with no mention of turkey, pumpkin pie, football, after Thanksgiving day sales and more; what happened? And let’s not even mention what our grateful settlers and pioneers later ended up doing to the Indians.
In retail, as I watch the seasons change along with the store displays, somehow Thanksgiving slips through the cracks. By summers end, you see fall and Halloween merchandise everywhere, and even the beginnings of Christmas displays. But what about the turkeys? The poor turkeys, and I’m a vegetarian so I “really” feel sorry for the turkeys! Country Roads sells a few antique turkey candy containers, an occasional vintage turkey salt and pepper shaker, but that is about it. Could it be, not to be judgmental, that turkeys are not very attractive, and that the little Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim figurine set just doesn’t cut it as a centerpiece for your holiday dinner table? It is interesting to me personally that we, as a Nation, have created an entire holiday week-end around dead birds, too much food, football and Christmas shopping. Especially when billions of people in “our” world live in poverty, and a huge percentage of that number live on less than a dollar a day!
Okay, I hope all of you know me well enough by now to know that I think there is much more to Thanksgiving than above. But, I also wish the Thanksgivings of the future could change their priorities of our Nation a little bit as well. I personally am thankful for that fourth Thursday every November. Country Roads is closed for the day, so Thanksgiving is a day of rest and reflective thoughts on what I’m truly thankful for! I am personally grateful for how blessed I am to live the life I have. I make Thanksgiving a day of spending time with my family, but not sweating over a stove, or stressing out to make sure I have the “perfect” stuffing or roasted turkey on the dinner table. Actually, my family usually goes out to dinner instead to a restaurant that has other main courses available than the poor, big ugly bird! It is nice to relax and laugh and be able to “afford” to go out to dinner. Even though I can “afford” to go out for a holiday dinner, I also make sure that I can “afford” to give back to life as much as I can!
I am definitely not trying to make anyone feel guilty for eating poor, dead ugly birds. Nor am I trying to make you feel guilty about starting your Christmas shopping. Hey, I own a retail business! And please, don’t think for a second, that I’m trying to imply anyone should feel guilty for living a comfortable life. That is not my point. I just want to bring awareness of what a difference we can all make if we re-direct a small percentage of our energies and priorities, not just at the holidays, but daily. I want to remind myself and my customers, once again, about the importance of simply giving back to life and to those that need a helping hand. The holidays are the pits for those in need! And I believe in my heart, if we just take some time, even on Thanksgiving, to decide how we can make a difference in others lives this holiday season, next year and the years after that, things in the world will slowly start to change for those that need help the most! If we take the time to talk to our kids at our Thanksgiving dinners about the importance of helping others that have so little, maybe we can start to remember that Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be the forgotten holiday. Maybe we can create a new Thanksgiving “tradition” for years to come. Thanksgiving can become a holiday of giving, especially with our hearts.