We should be outraged. Thanksgiving, the best and most uniquely American holiday, is being squeezed out, gobbled up by the growing commercialism of Halloween and Christmas. As soon as Labor Day sales were finished, stores put out Halloween costumes and even Christmas decorations. Trick-or-treat candy still fills the desktop canisters in my office while radio stations converted to “all Christmas all the time” a couple weeks ago. Where’s Thanksgiving fit in?
This year, retail workers across America will gobble down their turkey TV dinners before scurrying off to work with antacids in their pockets. Every year, the Black Friday shopping extravaganza has begun earlier and earlier. Now, it starts on Thursday. Thanksgiving has evolved into Gray Thursday.
When I was on staff with Campus Crusade at Berkeley, my team would put on a huge Thanksgiving feast for hundreds of international students. That tradition continued during my decade living abroad. Since then, Steve and I have hosted countless people who don’t have family nearby to spend the day with – whether they are college students, widows, internationals, or one-parent families. At each of these dinners, we take the opportunity to explain the significance of this day, set apart – since the very first year colonists inhabited this land – for the purpose of thanking God for His many blessings.
How can you compare a day to remember God’s goodness with grateful hearts to dressing like vampires and sucking candy out of strangers’ hands at Halloween? Or even the way we observe Christmas now, the celebration of God become man reduced to a season of indulging people with gifts they don’t need and we can’t afford to buy. Our little darlings’ visions of sugarplums have been replaced by expectations of more costly Wiis, iPads, and Xboxes.
In one of my favorite Christmas films of all time, the original Miracle on 34th Street, one of Kris Kringle’s devotees bemoans the “isms” in our world. “The woist of these is materialism,” he says. What would he say about Gray Thursday?
I, for one, refuse to shop on Thursday or even Friday; however, I must sheepishly admit that I will probably do some on Saturday. Whether you shop or not, I hope you take time this weekend to reflect on the abundant blessings God has lavished on us all. Happy Thanksgiving to you!