The All-Too-Brief Thanksgiving Season

By , November 4, 2009

Halloween’s over, its decorations packed away. Christmas is yet to come. Now comes the briefest of holiday seasons, Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving gets short shrift. It’s primarily an American observance, although Canada and other countries have their own similar holidays. Ours doesn’t share worldwide observance like most other major holidays. That, and its proximity to Christmas makes it an easy one to overpower. A sumptuous meal, and perhaps meditation upon the legacy of the Puritans can hardly compete with the Christmas season. Coming as close as it does, there always seems to be some sort of trade off involved: if you have to travel to see family, you either do so for Thanksgiving or Christmas, not for both. And, if a choice must be made, better to be together at Christmas than Thanksgiving.

The holiday’s going to get particularly lost this year. Word is that the suffering retail industry wants us to think about Christmas earlier than usual, in order to save their sales figures. We’re insulated against it, not having television or commercial radio, but it’ll be a full court press, I’m sure, hard for most people to resist.

My parents, bless them, raised us to think of Thanksgiving as something more than The Meal that Gives Us Strength to Tackle the Christmas Shopping. Our family Thanksgivings were nothing spectacular, but they were well rooted in the traditions of the holiday. For us it’s always been about family togetherness, and being thankful for what we have.

The brevity of the season is most apparent to me in the music we play only at this time of year—a small handful of CDs that feature seasonally appropriate music. They’re among my favorites, not only for the quality of the music, but for the rarity of hearing them.

I’m definitely not one of those people who will play seasonal music at any time of year. I hate reviews of Christmas CDs that include variations of the phrase: “music you’ll listen to all year.” No. Seasonal music is sacred music—set aside from the ordinary to enhance a particular time. To me, playing it outside of its season profanes it. So I avoid it, even if it means that I’ll only hear some of it for about 26 days out of each year.

Despite its disadvantages, I really do love the Thanksgiving season. We have a lot to be thankful for, and try not to limit our thankfulness to this one time of year, but I always enjoy a chance to focus on family and friends . . . and, incidentally, eat turkey!

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