Christmas is encroaching further and further into the calendar each year. Growing up it always felt like we had Halloween, Thanksgiving AND THEN Christmas could start. Christmas was obviously the biggest, but the other two were given their fair share of attention. And they felt like natural buffers, keeping Christmas in its place.
Thanksgiving is an American (and Canadian, but earlier) holiday, but even Halloween is not as widely celebrated in Europe so without these stop gaps it can feel like Christmas starts as soon as the temps drop. But these days, even in America it seems as if the Christmas season begins on November 1st.
Which is too early!
First of all, that is a lot of time to be listening to Christmas music! Sure, some are complex classics that can be played on repeat and still enjoyed: Last Christmas; All I Want For Christmas Is You; Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; Christmas (Baby Please Come Home); and the Chris Isaak version of Blue Christmas. But for each of these greats, there is a version of Marshmallow World, and if that fact doesn’t make you want to push back Xmas, I don’t know what will.
And let’s talk logistics. Christmas is hard because you want the decorations up long enough to enjoy, and more importantly long enough to justify the hassle of getting them out and putting them up in the first place, but not too long! And also, that tree just ain’t gonna last. Hell even putting a tree up the day after Thanksgiving means you’re gonna have a dry piece of kindling in your living room come Christmas morning. And there is no vacuum in the world that will stand up to the pine needles it sheds.
So I am urging you to reconsider Thanksgiving as its own standalone holiday before fully embracing Christmastime. As it stands, the 4th Thursday in November is starting to feel like a waystation on the journey to yuletide cheer, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. As far as I know it’s the only “ritual sacrifice WITH pie” (emphasis mine) celebrated in the whole world, and that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Sure, it doesn’t have the songs, or the movies, or the quickly shedding conifer in the living room, but you can’t knock a day designed around eating. And as Christmas’s increasingly large stake of the year seems to be built upon consumerism it is nice to have a day where we can celebrate what we already have.
I am not suggesting that we turn Thanksgiving into another Christmas with decorations and an entire film industry built around it, but simply that we allow it its time before diving face first into tinsel.
While I’m talking about films, there are of course Thanksgiving films that should not be ignored. The Addams’ Family Values is amazing and worth at least a once a year rewatch. Home For The Holidays is too often overlooked. It is a dark, more family based rom-com that should get more love. It is in the vein of The Family Stone, only at Thanksgiving and actually better. If you’re looking for something a bit more “indie” Pieces of April is what you need. It has the bonus of a killer soundtrack by Stephin Merritt, which you can claim is a “Thanksgiving album” when you can’t bear anymore Charlie Brown Music and your aunt wants to kick start the Christmas tunes
At no other time of year will you get an extra long weekend just for you to eat, so don’t pass it by. Spend it with your family, your loved ones, your friends, or on your own, just spend it as Thanksgiving not some trial run for Christmas. And maybe try not to let Christmas really start until the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers have been binned. No one ever really wants those green beans anyway!
A note on Black Friday:
Thanksgiving is a day to acknowledge all the things we have and the kindness we have received throughout the year. Do you really need to cap that off with mindless panicked shopping? And please, please, please remember that the people working in those shops are human beings, that they have often had to leave their friends and family early, or not got to see them at all, so that you can shop. And remember that they hate you. Honest to god, if you are shopping on Black Friday every employee hates you.
So make a considered and informed choice before partaking.