Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Give Thanksgiving a Chance

You’re Getting’ Nuthin’ For Christmas
At Least Not Yet

I heard my first Christmas song on the radio on November 4.  My arraignment for willful destruction of said radio is next week.

Look, I know it’s been a hard year for retailers and that Christmas is the raison d’être for most anyone that sells things, but that only explains WalMart, not FM100.  Is there really that strong a demand for Christmas music on the radio?  Are we afraid we’re not going to get to hear Bing Crosby warble “White Christmas” ever again?  Is 46 times a year not sufficient?  Is your season enhanced by SheDaisy and Snoop Dogg singing Jingle Bells?

Christmas is great.  Nice holiday.  It has all the ingredients of the truly powerful celebrations: its own food, a big event, a selfless rationale, (usually) a day off other than Monday.  Christmas has the added bonus of being at the end of the year, which psychologically is extraordinarily powerful.  It has none of the creepiness of Hallowe’en, little of the Hallmarkiness of Mother’s Day, the “when-is-that-again” of Easter, or The Government Thinks This Is Important of Labor Day, which has become “the last holiday before the grind of school kicks in.  And by the way, the pool is closing.”

But please, people.  Independence Day is a huge holiday, too, has its own actual date (for the opposite example, see Presidents’ Day), is the only holiday other than Super Bowl Sunday that is at least mostly about grilling, and it comes with fireworks.  But when was the last time a radio station began playing John Philip Souza in April just so we could get ready?  Heck, it’s unusual to hear any patriotic music at all even on the day itself.  I like Independence Day because it doesn’t pretend that it’s the Reason for Summer.  Christmas, which has perhaps the best claim of all to real celebration, has got so much attitude now that I’m starting to get seriously annoyed.

There’s an antidote.  It’s a holiday with a solid reason for existence, a selfless purpose, a quirky midweek date (unlike other holidays it is ALWAYS in the middle of the week), and by far the best food of any celebration.  It requires no massive expenditures of cash to observe.  It does not require an endless round of parties.  No competitive decorating.  No entire month of false cheer.  No Snoop Dogg.  It has practically no music at all anymore, which is a shame, because it used to have a great deal, most of it very simple but elegant, profound, and moving.  It is almost always celebrated by families together.

Sound familiar?

We used to call it Thanksgiving.  It falls on the last Thursday of November, conveniently situated between the hedonistic mooching of Hallowe’en and the tinsel-deep marketing bonanza of Christmas, for those that have forgotten.  Never mind what it celebrated originally, because that’s not all that relevant.  It is a day to give thanks, and realize you have something to be thankful for.  It’s about giving, even perhaps more than the Anointed Giving Holiday on December 25, because at Christmas, though it may be better to give than to receive, it’s almost never more memorable (ever ask a 5-year-old “what are you giving for Christmas?”).  But giving thanks, by contrast, is purely one-way.  Nobody can give it back to you, or get a better one than you have, or spend three hours in line at Target returning it.

Now I know that Thanksgiving these days is mostly about the food and football, not that that’s a bad thing, but the day is still wrapped up in family, and family is an antidote to most of the world’s ills.  Thanksgiving demands nothing but a grateful heart, and preferably loved ones to share it with.

Here is a call to revolution: start making a list of what you’re thankful for.  Post it on the wall.  Leave it there.  Add to it a little every day.  You could even, if you wanted to get crazy, leave it up after the tinsel and mistletoe have Decked the Halls, just to remind yourself.  I realize that this would be Thanksgiving intruding on Christmas, but don’t you think there’s room for a little payback here?  Seriously?

Give Thanksgiving a chance.  You’ll be glad you did.


P.S. You are on my gratitude list.  Each one of you.  Thank you for being my friends.

P.S.S. I remain a fan of Christmas, though not for the reasons you might think.  Look for the “I’m Sick Of Hearing About The True Meaning Of Christmas” essay on this blog in early December.  See you there.

This article first appeared in the November/December edition of The Chris Jones Group Experience newsletter, subscription available here.  No charge to readers of this blog.