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Editor's column: Thanksgiving is on life support

November 24, 2012
By Per Peterson , Marshall Independent

hings are not looking good for Thanksgiving. It's resting comfortably in its bed right now, but its outlook is bleak.

The holiday between Halloween and Christmas, known mostly for family get-togethers, good food and football, is dying a slow death. The fact that it's even refered to as "Turkey Day" should tell you something.

If you don't agree, play this game: If we had to abolish one of the eight major holidays celebrated in this country, which one do you think would be the most expendable?

Christmas? No, you can't touch Christmas. Sure, Christmas isn't what it used to be, but it has the perfect combination of religion, presents and food. And it's about putting smiles on kids' faces. Any holiday that directly impacts children is off limits.

That's why Halloween is untouchable as well. Halloween, like Christmas, has morphed over the years. While trick-or-treating is still a time-honored tradition, Halloween is slowly becoming a holiday for the grown-ups. Just check out a bar on the weekend closest to Oct. 31 if you don't believe me. Halloween should be moved to the last Friday of October, not abolished.

What about Easter, you say? Nope. Easter, like Christmas, has religion on its side. Plus, it has the kid factor going for it as well. This is the one Sunday service you don't miss. And with the post-worship egg bakes and egg hunts, it's hard to fathom getting rid of Easter.

Fourth of July? Don't even go there. The Fourth is Americana at its finest. Of course, like most other holidays, many have lost sight of the true meaning of this holiday, but the Fourth is the most symbolic of all the major holidays. Like Veterans Day and Memorial Day, it is tradition, patriotism, love of country and pride all rolled into one. Throw in its own kid factor and it's not going anywhere.

You could make a strong argument for banishing Valentine's Day, but that day still has meaning for the couples out there, and it offers a nice mid-winter distraction. Plus, the card, candy and flower companies wouldn't allow it.

That leaves Thanksgiving, which has been getting pinched more and more throughout the years. Think about it. Used to be, Black Friday started, well, on a Friday. Now, door-busters are taking place on Thanksgiving NIGHT. Ick. Why sit around the living room enjoying your family and leftovers when you can hit the mall (but not the person next to you) or the box stores for a cheap flat-screen?

And you can bet your Christmas budget that by next year some store will crank up the deals at noon on Thanksgiving in what would amount to the holiday's death knell.

But it's not just Black Friday that's doing in Thanksgiving. On my way home from work Wednesday, I found that the one radio station that traditionally starts playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving, decided to trump itself by playing it before Thanksgiving this year, as if to say "Christmas is here."

Thanksgiving, as we know it today, still has meaning to many folks and should still serve as a reminder to all of us that we should be thankful for all we have. But it's just as much a party as anything, a food and football orgy. Take that away and what do you have? Just another day off from work. Whoo-hoo, four-day weekend!

Yes, families still get together, and it continues to be one of the busiest travel times of the year, but do all family members really look forward to these yearly reunions or do they fly and drive thousands of miles because they feel obligated?

And it's not as if the kids get excited about it. Ever heard of a kid making a Thanksgiving list? Who are they going to set cookies out for, a pilgrim?

Thanksgiving is holding on for now, but as those overbearing holiday sales creep up on the calendar more and more every year, and as stores break out the trees and holiday displays earlier and earlier, its demise seems imminent. I hope I'm wrong and the tradition lives on.

Who knows, maybe next year I'll get a Thanksgiving card in the mail.



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