As I walked through the automatic doors of my local Walmart this Saturday, I was suddenly surrounded by the seasonal section, overflowing with early Christmas decor. A plague of jingle bells stretched to the far corners of the store.
If one remained in the store long enough, they might forget that it is early November and not, in fact, Christmas season.
This alarming trend has been present all over Albion. Every day, I see more whiteboards on dorm doors asking “What’s your favorite Christmas song?” The music reverberating from the showers has turned to holiday hits, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” greeting me loudly every morning. Even in downtown Albion, an enormous Christmas tree has been erected in just the last week.
I think the U.S. begins to celebrate Christmas criminally early. With Halloween barely out of the door and Thanksgiving next in line, the focus on Christmas so soon undermines the value of other holidays.
Thanksgiving is the shamefully underrated precursor to Christmas and everything that Christmas could be; the best holiday food of the year, a meaningful get-together, a break from school and responsibility without the commercial pressure to buy gifts for every member of the family.
Thanksgiving dinner is one of the best and most unique meals of the year. In my family, it is the only time we have a fully dressed turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie.
Picture your favorite Thanksgiving food: fluffy mashed potatoes smothered in rich gravy, tender cuts of turkey, buttery rolls, smooth pumpkin pie with a flaky crust – the list goes on. What other holiday has a menu so iconic? What other holiday has such amazing leftovers?
What is arguably more meaningful than the food, though, is the people you eat it with.
In “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” Marcie puts this well: “Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. We should just be thankful for being together.”
Christmas as a holiday necessitates a materialism not present in other, equally enjoyable holidays like Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving asks us to be grateful for what we’ve got, rather than what we can get. The commercialism of Christmas is one of the aspects I find most disingenuous about the holiday season, especially with how rushed it is.
You may have noticed Christmas retailing started as early as September.
The National Retail Federation, the largest retail association in the world, predicts that holiday retail sales will reach up to $960.4 billion. That’s a lot of money.
These numbers have only increased over time. It is this kind of commercial pressure that makes me dread the coming of the Christmas season: rushing to think of gift ideas, worrying about what will be in stock and what shipping times will be too late. Not to mention the strain it puts on many thin wallets.
With all this in mind, we should also take into consideration which holiday is more popular in the US, and the winner is –drum roll, please – Thanksgiving!
A survey conducted in the third quarter of 2021 by Statista.com showed that Thanksgiving had a popularity rating of 81%, while Christmas came in second at 77%.
I am not saying that Christmas isn’t a wonderful holiday, or even that Thanksgiving is better overall. What I am saying is that Thanksgiving should be celebrated with the same anticipation and appreciation as Christmas.
So, I ask you: Don’t forget Thanksgiving in your rush to deck the halls with boughs of holly this November.