The other day – it was October 28th – I went to a hardware store, fully expecting to take advantage of the wide array of spooky stuff that goes on sale a few days before Halloween. I strolled into the building with a big grin on my face, ready to spend more money than I probably should – and I was greeted with a nightmarish display of Christmas decorations.
Tinsel and evergreens packed the whole store, a tsunami of horrible holiday cheer. I stopped dead in my tracks as my smile violently fell and I took in the terrible festivity that ambushed me from all sides. Trekking resentfully through the premature wave of red and green, I scoured the aisles for my beloved black and orange, desperate to see even one colorful leaf or blessed jack-o-lantern.
With a sigh of relief, I finally found the Halloween display. Unlike the massive Christmas section, which seemed to dominate half the store, October was awarded one measly display stand, which had hurriedly been marked half off. Only a fraction of the tiny fall area was devoted to Thanksgiving, which was similarly discounted by fifty percent.
All of my precious fall products looked utterly abandoned.
I was mortified.
Thanksgiving is almost exclusively an American tradition, celebrated mostly on our shores. So why is it that a holiday that’s recognized by hardly more than one country gets so thoroughly passed over by that very country? Why do we skip from Halloween to Christmas instantaneously, as if no major holiday exists in between? I believe it’s because Americans worship money more than anything else, so they are led by merchandisers to believe that nothing special happens in November. However, for the reasons I’ve compiled below, Thanksgiving is clearly superior to Christmas.
- Thanksgiving hasn’t become horribly commercialized.
Every year, my family frets over how they’re going to afford Christmas. I live with six other family members, and each of us feels obligated to buy at least one gift for every person in the household. Each Christmas, we spend a cumulative small fortune on presents, most of which we don’t need and never really use. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, doesn’t require anyone to break the bank, because spending money isn’t part of the structure of the holiday. For the same reason, materialism hasn’t grabbed ahold of it, so it doesn’t get shoved down our throats with advertisements.
- No one gets tired of Thanksgiving.
It seems that every year, Christmas decorations claw their way onto the shelves a few days earlier than they did the previous year. At this point, it’s not even Halloween before evergreens start popping up in stores. By the time the actual holiday rolls around, everyone I know is sick of it. People just want to get it over with so they don’t have to hear sleigh bells in car ads anymore. Christmas is loud, irritating, and obnoxious: it bombards the world with festivity and annoying music for months. Thanksgiving is reserved, shy, and modest: it doesn’t take over radio and television. It isn’t arrogant enough to claim that it’s “the most wonderful time of the year”. Instead, it quietly shows up on the fourth Thursday of November, and it’s gone by the time everyone wakes up the following Friday. It doesn’t overstay its welcome.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000.
This reason is especially close to my heart. MST3K, as it’s colloquially called, is a beloved TV series that premiered on Thanksgiving Day of 1988. Several years later, the Comedy Channel began its corporate transition toward becoming Comedy Central, and consequently was in desperate need of holiday programming. Because MST3K originally aired on Thanksgiving (and because episodes are unusually long at 92 minutes each), the station began running 30-hour marathons of the show every Turkey Day. This became a beloved tradition among fans, and it continued until the show’s cancellation from Comedy Central. The show’s creator brought this tradition back a few years ago via the Internet, and it has been tremendously popular. Season 12 of MST3K is set to premiere on Netflix on Thanksgiving Day, 2018, thus making the holiday even more special.
4. Turkey Day is uniquely American.
Christmas is celebrated all across the globe, which, in my mind, dilutes it. So many different cultures practice some form of Christmas that in many cases, the holiday is unrecognizable nation to nation. Thanksgiving is one of the few things Americans can claim is distinctly our own. We have very few unique traditions, because our country is only 250 years old. To have an American holiday is special. It’s something we as a nation should take pride in. It’s a shame that so many people and corporations skip right over one of the few days we can claim for ourselves.
- It’s a secular holiday.
Not everyone is Christian. By default, then, Christmas excludes massive groups of people who aren’t interested in celebrating Jesus. Ordinarily, it would be fine for those people to simply not participate in a holiday that doesn’t suit their religious preferences. However, oppression is written into the structure of Christianity, and any American who doesn’t put up a tree and exchange presents inevitably winds up feeling left out, if not completely villainized. Thanksgiving, by contrast, is pointedly open to every American, and it’s inclusive by nature. It doesn’t focus on anyone’s God, so it doesn’t leave anyone out, or offend all the groups of people who have been oppressed by that God (which, in the case of Christianity, is pretty much everybody).
There you have it. I’m aware that in this article, I have both praised and lamented the fact that Thanksgiving doesn’t get very much advertising. While I don’t want to see it become overly commercialized like Christmas undoubtedly is, I would like to see more people appreciate Turkey Day. Though in the wise words of MST3K’s Joel Robinson, “Don’t be afraid to say no to organ meats this holiday season, thanks.”