Thanksgiving Chaos and Holidays Losing TraditionsMichael Sheehan
I feel like we are losing the true meaning of a lot of holidays we celebrate. And what really pisses me off is how the Christmas decorations and sales are now starting around Halloween. Really?! In fact, at a recent visit to my local Starbucks, they are wearing reindeer antlers and playing Auld Lang Syne. That’s more than a month away people! I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years, we will see the decorations go up in August or there will be Back to School/Christmas sales at the same time.
There are a few holidays that seem to becoming just too commercial for our own good. Christmas is the obvious “winner.” A close second, in my opinion is Easter. Christmas seems to be only about shopping and Easter, all about the Easter Bunny and getting chocolate. Then, of course, there is Valentine’s Day (which is not a real holiday but is becoming increasingly commercial).
Thanksgiving is a holiday that seems to be sticking to tradition though (with the shadow of Black Friday – yeah shopping again – the next day). I would say that Halloween (again, not a real holiday) has maintained its tradition as well, at least how I remember it. Sure, it’s a bit commercialized, but it’s about dressing up, putting up decorations and getting candy. Pure and simple. Halloween is MY favorite holiday, for what it’s worth. But let’s get back to Thanksgiving. By definition, it’s a time of giving thanks for friends and family. It’s my father’s favorite holiday. There is no need to give gifts, just bring people together to enjoy good food and interesting conversation.
My Thanksgiving celebrations have always been quite different than others of many people that I know. We have a very formal process where everyone puts on their best clothes (not black tie but definitely not jeans), they cook and bring a dish (having an over abundance of food is critical), and then head over to my dad’s to feast in the evening. When I was young, that’s how it was done and the tradition hasn’t really changed over the years. I didn’t experience what many other Americans do, of watching football on TV for hours and hours and eating and drinking throughout until you are comatose and drugged up with Tryptophan (really, it’s the carbohydrates that make you sleepy). But until my father can’t do his famous turkey meals, we will continue down the traditional path…so no football watching in our house unless I can sneak away.
The thing that was missing from our Thanksgiving tradition was that of the chaos, but now that I have 3 kids and my step sister has a toddler, the chaos is coming into play. We are still doing the traditional dinner, but now, we have the antics of a bunch of kids who definitely have their own agenda. While we may never get to the point of arriving early and just sitting around watching all of the football games, I think that we will achieve a careful balance of chaos and formality in our upcoming Thanksgivings.
So, are you a Thanksgiving traditionalist or a chaos believer? Or a little bit of both? How do your kids factor into the mix? Do you have a separate children’s table (you know the rickety old fold up card table that is stuck on to the end of the big table or in another room), do people sit around the TV or is everyone crammed around a huge table?
And what are your Thanksgiving traditions? And how do you feel that the holidays have changed since you were a child? At least the good thing is, Thanksgiving hasn’t become overly commercialized…yet.