It’s the most wonderful time of the year again, goes the song. Retailers no longer begin the holiday selling season on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, with Cyber Monday the following Monday. Some retail stores begin the Christmas Rush on Thanksgiving, and many grocery stores are open on Thanksgiving Day.
REI stores have a creative idea that may reverse the trend if other stores follow suit. Like most stores, they are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they are also staying closed on Black Friday, encouraging their staff to get outdoors. The helpful sales guy I spoke to about cross country ski purchases was planning to go mountain biking on Friday. Hopefully he didn’t get too muddy. Getting two days off work in a row is rare in the retail business, especially on weekends.
With extended store hours during the holidays, people have ample opportunities to buy from the stores competing from their business. There is no need to encroach on family holidays like Thanksgiving.
In many cases, the stores already are starting their sales and putting out Christmas items in early November. So now we have two months of shopping to help the retailers with their Exmas sales. Sixty years ago C.S. Lewis wrote about the dual holidays celebrated by a barbarian nation called Niatirb (Britain spelled backwards): the commercial holiday called Exmas and the sacred holiday called Chrissmas). His satirical essay about this is thought-provoking. You can read this essay in the book God in the Dock.
Dr. Paul Kengor, professor at Grove City College and author of numerous history books, wrote about how Thanksgiving is being secularized, with references to God being removed at many libraries and schools. Children are merely taught to be thankful. No longer are they taught about the history of the holiday, Presidential quotes regarding it, etc. are in Dr. Kengor’s essay “Giving thanks at Thanksgiving … but not to God.” It is well worth reading.
As a Christian, I am disappointed but not disheartened by these trends. God is on the throne of the universe whether people recognize Him and give Him thanks or not. At Christmas, Christians believe Jesus came from heaven to earth, God with us, and led a sinless life, then was sacrificed on the cross in payment for our rebellion against a holy God. All who trust in Him are saved from their sins and will live forever in heaven when they die.
History of the National Thanksgiving Day
Sarah Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to President Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She explained, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”
Before this, each state had its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale’s request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. George Washington was the first president to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, issuing his request on October 3, 1789, exactly 74 years before Lincoln’s.
The document sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary how he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.
Here is an excerpt from President Lincoln’s proclamation:
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.”
Here is the full Thanksgiving proclamation by Abraham Lincoln from AMAC’s website.
Association of Mature American Citizens is a conservative alternative to AARP for people 50 and above.
We will see if Thanksgiving is swallowed up in the Christmas (Exmas) Rush or whether it can remain the family holiday it has always been. Keeping a focus on the Giver of good gifts is always a struggle, for Christians and people of good will everywhere. We should not desire to be too affluent, lest in our abundance we forget Him (Proverbs 30:7-9):
“Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.”
Conservative columnist Dale Murrish writes on history, travel, technology, religion and politics for the Troy Patch and USA Melting Pot club. You can help this non-profit club by making your Amazon purchases through the link on the left side of their website. You can also see over a dozen ethnic presentations from people with firsthand knowledge under Culture & Country (right hand side), and outdoor presentations (Hobby & Fun), including posts on bicycling, skiing and camping.
Other interesting articles on the USA Melting Pot website have recently been written by Bilal Rathur on his hajj to Saudi Arabia (Part 6) and by Carl Petersen. Thanks to both of them for their contributions.