I must confess disappointment when CNN featured an article published on the Daily Beast by Dean Obeidallah with a similar concept and the exact same headline I was going to use for an article I was in the process of writing -- The War on Thanksgiving. It is always reassuring, however, that there are like-minded individuals who feel as driven to make a very valid point about the holiday season.
Thanksgiving has a special place in our nation’s history. It’s truly the quintessential American holiday. Our first Congress even passed a resolution in 1789 urging President Washington to proclaim a national day of thanks. (You have to wonder if our current dysfunctional Congress could even agree on a Thanksgiving resolution.) Washington obliged by issuing a proclamation that Thursday, November 26, 1789, would be a day of public thanksgiving. Thanksgiving now means many things to people. It’s a day when family members unite to celebrate their blessings. True, it may be painful to spend a full day with family, but that is why turkey is the perfect food—it makes us sleepy, allowing us to nap for a bit and avoid painful conversations with certain annoying relatives.
While I may not completely agree with everything Obdeidallah says in the editorial, there are certain aspects of this article that stick out to me.
There is not a holiday season where we don't hear about a so-called "war on Christmas." Yet, the holiday continues to expand and devour other holidays like a blackhole -- including Thanksgiving.
Every time the ACLU challenges the constitutionality of a nativity scene on public property, someone shouts “war on Christmas!” Every time a brick-and-mortar store promotes signs that say, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” someone shouts “war on Christmas!”
I do understand the basic issue. The idea of a "war on Christmas" comes from a problem people have with the fact that there is a prevailing secular approach to the holiday. It has been going on for decades and the more secular society becomes, the less focus is placed on the religious roots of the holiday.
People can now imagine how the pagans felt when their holidays were taken and altered to fit changes in society.
Many people don't say "Happy Holidays" because it is politically correct. Many people say "Happy Holidays" because they recognize that there are other festivals and celebrations that go on during the winter season. It is a time of year that has been celebrated by civilizations all over the world for millennia -- the end of the harvest season.
It is a time to give thanks for everything we have and to celebrate the fruits of our labor. People say "Happy Holidays" because different cultures have different ways of celebrating this and one way America celebrates is by having a day devoted to thanks.
However, it seems we just go through the motions on Thanksgiving now. We have the traditional dinner and families get together for a little while, but now family and giving thanks must be put on hold -- whether you are a consumer or employee of a retail store -- because the Christmas shopping season can't wait and the 60% off on that 52" 4K TV is so good it's worth trampling people to get.
I remember a time when I could go into a store and find plenty of decorations for Thanksgiving right after Halloween. Then, it went from Halloween to Christmas and now we see a mix of Halloween decorations and Christmas decorations in stores with very little devoted to a true American holiday.
If there is a war on any holiday, it is Thanksgiving. Christmas is doing just fine.