Thanksgiving fares poorly as a holiday in the 21st century.
Some people argue the holiday represents the oppression of Native Americans and the violent seizure of their land and resources by white, European colonists.
These people probably have a point. Certainly, our history is more complicated than the cartoonish myth of Native Americans and European colonists having a hearty turkey dinner.
Most stories told us as children are bunk. George Washington didn’t have wooden teeth. “Honest” Abe Lincoln almost certainly told a lie.
There’s no way Batman can beat Superman in a fight unless Superman agrees not to kill Batman with his heat vision from space.
I doubt Americans are going to calmly discuss the flaws in our history.
We can’t even calmly discuss the officiating during a Kansas City Chiefs game.
Besides, Thanksgiving’s big problem is not its historical baggage.
Americans excel at seeing only what they want to see when it comes to history.
Thanksgiving’s big problem is that it has nothing to sell.
Halloween offers costumes, candy, and decorations.
The National Retail Federation estimated Americans spent $10 billion in advance of Halloween.
And Christmas? Christmas is used to sell everything else.
Americans are expected to spend $960.4 billion on Christmas this year, per the retail federation.
That’s “billion” with a “b.”
Bah humbug to inflation. Let’s shoot for $1 trillion.
Entire industries depend on how well they sell their wares during the Christmas season, which starts the day after Halloween.
Thanksgiving has become more like halftime in the middle of shopping a marathon spree.
I don’t know what can be done about it.
I love Thanksgiving.
Whatever its troubling historical roots may be, it celebrates my two favorite deadly sins: gluttony and sloth.
If the tryptophan in the turkey isn’t sedating me, surely watching the hideous Detroit Lions play well.
I like the food.
I hate the endless lists by alleged news outlets ranking the best side dishes.
I like the fellowship, even though in recent years I’ve favored a smaller celebration with Parents 2.0 and maybe one or two other relatives and friends.
I like football games, even though the games are usually terrible.
Food, fellowship, and football should be enough to make Thanksgiving second only to the Fourth of July in patriotism.
Instead, it’s a placeholder for Black Friday sales.
Another advantage Christmas has is movies and shows.
The Hallmark Channel plays nonstop saccharine holiday stories.
From “A Miracle on 34th Street” to “Die Hard,” people love their Christmas movies.
Thanksgiving has one great movie: “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”
Nobody throws that on a marathon on TBS the way they do “A Christmas Story.”
Charlie Brown has a Thanksgiving special, but it’s a pale imitation of the greatest holiday special of all time, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
So, what is Thanksgiving to do?
It needs juice. It needs pizazz. It needs hutzpah.
It needs a spokesman.
Christmas has Santa Claus.
Halloween has all the rest of the characters.
Thanksgiving needs to do some recruiting. It needs to find the voice that will sway Americans’ attention away from the glitter of Christmas and Halloween and toward the simple pleasures of giving thanks and counting our blessings.
There arere only two people in the world who have enough charisma to inspire us to focus on Thanksgiving: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Taylor Swift.
If the two of them combine their powers for good, Thanksgiving could rise from the afterthoughts of American holidays.
All we need is one of Swift’s “sick beats,” because we all want to “smell what the Rock is cooking.”
And people will be saying “Happy Thanksgiving” in America again.
Even though they never stopped.
Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
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