This column originally appeared on Thanksgiving Day 2006.
I gather today is some sort of holiday. Now what is it? Turkey Day? No. That's not right. Oh, yes. Thanksgiving. How could I forget? Well, it's easy to lose track of a holiday that has been squeezed almost to a singularity by the juggernauts of Christmas and Halloween.
In terms of the amount of money Americans spend on them every year, Christmas and Halloween are easily the country's two most popular celebrations. And that's even without anyone getting a paid day off for tricks or treats.
Thanksgiving is under assault. You might as well call it "Official Start of the Christmas Season Eve." People used to get upset when stores and shopping malls put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Now, some stores put them up before Halloween. Some people complain about a "War on Christmas," in which Christmas is losing ground to other, more "politically correct" holidays. But Christmas has it easy compared to Thanksgiving.
Yes, dear readers, whether you've noticed it or not, we're in the midst of a War on Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving is folding faster than the Polish cavalry in front of a Panzer division. It's time to take sides.
So, let me be clear about this — Down with Thanksgiving! Now, nobody is going to quibble with a day off work, so assume that if we abolish Thanksgiving, we'll get something else in return.
Let's face it. What's Thanksgiving for? Giving thanks? Well, if that's all, I don't need a holiday to do that, and if I do, how thankful am I, really? Mostly, Thanksgiving is for watching football and family gatherings. The last time I checked, there was no shortage of pro football on TV, even on days not devoted to the ritual consumption of poultry.
But what about all that family togetherness? That's all well and good, I suppose, if watching Aunt Margaret and Aunt Jill down a dozen glasses of sherry between them and then argue about which one of them Grandma really wanted to have the good china is your idea of a spectator sport.
Maybe Charles Schulz can help us? After all, the beloved creator of Charlie Brown and Snoopy did write a cartoon to explain the true meaning of Christmas.
Nope. The only life lesson I've taken away from "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is that jelly beans and popcorn do not go over well as Thanksgiving dinner.
Maybe Thanksgiving is simply the day when we remember the Pilgrims, who, according to all the history books, came to America in search of religious freedom.
I hate to burst your bubble — well, actually, this is the sort of thing I live for — but the Pilgrims didn't come to the New World for religious freedom.
When they first left England, the Pilgrims went to Holland, the most tolerant society the world had seen up to that time. The Pilgrims had all the religious freedom there they could stand. In fact, they had too much, and they were aghast that their children were taking advantage of the freedoms Holland offered. So, they packed up and came to America, not to get religious freedom, but to get away from it.
Other people can celebrate that sort of thing if they want, but count me out.