This post is written by my lovely daughter, Amanda. I hope you enjoy it.
Here is my solution to our culture's dismissal of Thanksgiving:
Every year, at about this time, I express concern that our most important American holiday is losing significance in our culture. While Halloween celebrations become larger events, and involve more child AND adult activities, the largest Christmas marketing kickoffs have migrated from "Black Friday" to Nov. 1, and earlier. With events such as the Macy's parade being pitched less as Thanksgivnig celebrations, and more as Christmas kickoffs, with an increasing number of families that have decided to "do Christmas on Thanksgiving", and with holiday lights beginning to glow long before our harvest feast, Tom Turkey sits forgotten on the sidelines.
As I try to raise awareness, many have argued, "But isn't the birth of our Lord more important than pilgrims and Indians?" Yes. But need we necessarily sacrifice such a significant day of gratitude and family? A national day of Thanksgiving also invokes the unavoidable issue of WHO it is we offer our gratitude. Also, are we ever commanded, or even encouraged, in Scripture to institute a yearly celebration of our Savior's birthday? Or is it more often emphasized to "In everything give thanks!". I'd argue the holidays hold nearly equal importance.
Though my grassroots campaign (okay, so it's pretty much just me) has little influence over the commercial giants that be, if you find yourself concerned as I am over this recent phenomenon, perhaps you'll join me in steps to preserve Thanksgiving Day.
1. Refrain, as much as possible, from making Christmas related purchases before Thanksgiving Day. If early Christmas marketing campaigns begin to prove less effective, merchandisers will become more inclined to focus their efforts later in the season. If you want to avoid holiday shopping crowds, perhaps shopping on-line through December would be an appropriate alternative.
2. Keep Halloween in perspective. No, I don't think celebrating Halloween will cause Satan to rise up and eat your soul. But, as fun as it is, we must acknowledge it as an almost entirely "Hallmark" or manufactured holiday. What are we teaching our children when we decorate our houses, play nonstop Halloween specials on TV, and shop at those special, seasonal "Halloween Shop"s for nearly a month before Trick-or-Treat day? I can't help but think that, for a child, it sends a message that Halloween is as important, or only second in importance to Christmas. We have to teach our kids that, yes, it's a fun holiday, but that it also holds little or no significance in comparison to Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, or even the "minor" holidays, such as Memorial Day or St. Valentine's Day.
3. Make Thanksgiving related purchases. As critical as we are of it, the commercialization of a holiday plays a great role in its perceived significance in our culture. We should really thank God that Christmas and Easter are so well commercialized. Its how these distinctly Christian holidays have maintained such prominence in even our very secular culture. Why not spend a little cash on those pretty harvest dishes for your Thanksgiving table? Perhaps, if you're not as gifted in the culinary arts, you could, order your Thanksgiving turkey from Honey Baked Ham or Boston Market. Target has a really cute set of Thanksgiving themed bath towels for sale right now. (Ridiculous, I know, but if your financially blessed, why not help the cause and have a cutesy seasonal bathroom.) Hallmark has a gorgeous assortment of Thanksgiving cards. Do you know someone faraway or overseas that would find encouragement from such a small token? What would it hurt to find a harvest wreath for your door that says, "Happy Thanksgiving!" If you have the dollars, why not vote with them?
4. I've seen an increasing number of families choosing to celebrate Christmas on Thanksgiving as a way to ensure that all members can attend. Let me suggest this, if you can't celebrate Christmas on Christmas, maybe New Years would be a more appropriate holiday to sacrifice. My own family in Illinois will be holding their Christmas celebration on January 3 this year. If we don't begin our Christmas holiday before Thanksgiving, extending it an extra week won't seem nearly as much a hardship.
5. Find those things that can make Thanksgiving magical for children. What customs can we adapt in our own families to delight future generations with warm memories and traditions to pass on? Maybe your little girl could get a new dress to wear Thanksgiving day. Perhaps special games can be reserved and played only on the holiday. What kid-centric treats can we offer every year at our table? I don't have kids yet, so I'm sure there are dozens of possibilities I haven't even thought to explore in this area. What other ways can we ensure Thanksgiving's prominence in future generations?