Whatever Happened To Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving by Doris Lee

This year I'm feeling a bit melancholy about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. I know I'm going to come off as a fuddy duddy, but I miss the Thanksgivings that I grew up with. I miss all the women (and a few of the men) scurrying around the kitchen making crazy amounts of food. 

There always seemed to be children underfoot and someone's hand was always getting slapped for trying to sample the goodies too soon. The smells that filled the air were divine! I loved being part of that unruly mess of extended family and friends.

Eventually everything was finished and we all gathered around the table (actually it was usually tables). The eldest male asked the blessing upon the food and those gathered together. Then each person would take turns saying what they were thankful for. Some words made us tear up and some of the little ones words of thankfulness would make us laugh out loud. 

After dinner the men and kids would either head outside to throw a ball around or find a recliner to watch a ball being thrown around. The women would clear the table and try to figure out ways to put all the leftovers into containers. I think that was the one day of the year that I didn't mind dishes. Many hands make light work. 

Several years ago the phenomenon of Black Friday came to my little part of the world. I loved it! It became a fun addition to our family's traditional activities. Sometime late Thanksgiving evening someone would run and get a paper so we could peruse the ads and plan our strategies. At this point in history the earliest the stores would open would be midnight. 

It was fun to bundle up and stand in line chatting with family and friends waiting for the doors to open. We live in a pretty small town so the crowds aren't bad at all. We'd start at Tanger Outlet Mall and then make our way to Target, Walmart and Walgreens. By 3:00 a.m. we were done and heading to breakfast. We felt like conquering heroes! 

In more recent years my children have married and their spouses have joined in the festivities. Poppy has willingly stayed home with the grandbabies so we can indulge in our yearly fun. I can't even begin to describe what a blessing it was to stand in line with my grown kids and listen to their sibling banter. 

I know it has been a slow progression, in fact it has been slow enough that I didn't really think much of it until this year, but the thrill of Black Friday has eroded for me. At the time all of the men in the family worked in retail but they were still off until the wee hours of Black Friday. We just adjusted our schedule a bit (yes it was different but we adapted). 

Now we come to this year and it seems that daily we are hearing of more and more stores that will be open on Thanksgiving Day. We keep hearing that it is necessary because of the economy and the shorter buying season between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. I understand those arguments. My husband works in retail and teaches business classes at the university level. I get the economics of it. But it still makes me sad that as a people we no longer find it important to stop and give thanks for the provision of the past year.

I just can't seem to escape the irony that we are giving up time with our loved ones in order to rush out and buy stuff for our loved onese. There's an old song called 'Big Yellow Taxi' and the chorus of it keeps running through my head. The lyrics go like this:

Don't it always seem to go,

That you don't know what you've got

Til it's gone.

They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot.

I know that most things are cyclical and we tend to come full circle, but I'm wondering how long it will take for us to realize what we had . . . now that it's gone?


  1. I'm not a fan of "Black Thursday". Christmas has already become so commercialized with all the ads starting around Halloween, the music starting before Thanksgiving & now I fear Thanksgiving will be forgotten. What ever happened to family time on Thanksgiving? Is that too much to ask these days?

    1. Amen! I'm staying home this Thanksgiving. IF I decide to shop it won't be until Friday!!! Makes me sad to think about how our world is changing and not always for the better.


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