I’m thankful for Thanksgiving, for turkeys and pies. I’m thankful for flowers and blue, cloudless skies. I’m thankful for Pilgrims, who sailed a vast sea, and came to the New World before you and me. I’m thankful for Indians, friendly and strong, and for Adam Sandler’s Thanksgiving song . . .
Zrrrp. 24/7 Christmas carols and pre-season holiday lights have interrupted these thankful thoughts. Counting blessings has become obsolete. In 1863, good Abe Lincoln gave the United States Thanksgiving. In 2013, retailers are taking it away. Black Friday, too, follows on the heels of the redheaded stepchild of holidays. Though Black Friday didn’t hit the holiday scene until the1960s, we accepted it and believed it would be with us forever.
But without Thanksgiving, there is no Black Friday. For many national chain stores, the fourth Thursday of November will be business as usual. Retailers worry that unless they intrude on Turkey Day, Americans won’t part with their Christmas cash. Without the constant reminders that started in October, we might forget that Christmas is coming at all.
They fear we’ll consume our cranberry sauce, waddle to our recliners, turn on football and fall asleep with our mouths open and our money clips closed. They agonize that our long winter’s nap will last straight through to New Year’s.
The CEOs of the commercial marketplace are like my youngest son, who removed a wad of bills from his pocket and held them under his nose. Inhaling deeply, he said, “I love the smell of money. Don’t you?”
I imagine that money smells like sweaty palms, musty purses, lint-filled pockets, wreaking wallets and dirt. I inquire with my son if I’m correct.
“No ma’am, Mama. Money smells like wood baseball bats. It smells like books. It smells like a clothes store. It smells like an iPhone. It smells like fishing lures. It smells like new shoes.”
As he rattled off a list of products, he continued to hold the bills against his upper lip. He breathed in, eyes closed, and exhaled. His euphoria unsettled me. With a Christmas wish list like that, neither he nor I will be smelling the money for long.
The CEOs will have it clutched in their hands, pressed under their noses. They plot to pluck it from us. Driven by a need for that euphoria, they’ve panicked over the shortest turkey-to-tinsel shopping season in ten years and have decided to resort to drastic measures. They’re axing the turkey and talking up the tinsel. They’re canceling Black Friday, deleting Thankful Thursday and instituting Operation Overdraw.
The plan appears to be working. Two months of compulsory contemplation of Christmas, with another month to go in this merry marathon, have numbed the public to the undermining of gratitude for the intangibles of life.
Across America on Thanksgiving, families will gather for the traditional meal. Children will stand and recite thankful poems to a restless audience – I’m thankful for family to love me each day. I’m thankful for friends and the games that we play. I’m thankful for flowers and bluebirds that sing. I’m thankful for choirs and church bells that ring.
The shifting of feet, the grabbing of coats, the jingling of keys will interrupt these thankful thoughts. With dark meat still clinging to the bones, with biscuits and butter as yet unmet, people will rise from their seats, snatch their purses and rush out to lay claim to holiday bargains, while the giblet gravy congeals in the cold bowl.
One wonders if good Abe Lincoln would think that 150 years of thankful is enough, too, and get his wallet and go.