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What about Thanksgiving?

Andy Ziccarelli | Wednesday, December 2, 2009

 It’s that time of year, again. Everyone comes back from Thanksgiving break, refreshed, excited (kind of) and ready to stare down finals. The best way to celebrate this, of course, is to start hanging Christmas lights, playing Christmas music and doing other assorted holiday activities. After all, the day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Christmas season … right?

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend these past few years, particularly on this campus. It is one that, if left unchecked, is capable of spiraling out of control. That trend is the creeping of the beginning of the Christmas season to earlier and earlier days each year. It has gotten to the point where people begin to celebrate so early that it doesn’t even feel like Christmas when they do it. Think all the way back to the first week of November, when the temperature was still unseasonably warm and the football team was 6-2 and still harbored hopes of a BCS bowl (seems like forever ago, right?). It was during that week that Starbucks began to give out coffee in their trademark red holiday cups. Less than a week after Halloween!

But Starbucks is far from the only offender. Radio stations have started playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving and Comcast cable offers their entire Christmas On-Demand section way too early, complete with a video of a burning yule log in a fireplace (that’s seriously the entire video). And don’t think I didn’t notice those wreaths and Christmas lights hanging from DPAC on my way out of campus last Tuesday.

At the risk of being labeled a scrooge, it was just far, far too early for all of that stuff, and the problem is that the date for the beginning of the holiday season just keeps barreling forward on the calendar, without regard for anything it may eclipse, most notably Thanksgiving. Fortunately, however I happen to be one of the world’s biggest supporters of Thanksgiving. And since it clearly can’t stand up for itself, I am going to take it upon myself to defend Thanksgiving for its rightful honor of best holiday of the year.

First of all, and most superficially, Thanksgiving is all about football. All throughout my childhood and up until we graduated high school, I gathered with the friends I made in elementary school every Thanksgiving morning on the same field in the same park with our dads for a game of touch football. Then, once you got home, all you had to do was flip on the TV, and football was already on, and the Lions were already losing. Once the first game was over, you just picked up the remote, changed the channel to the Cowboys game, and you were set. The addition of night games has been awesome, as well (it gives you something to fall asleep to on the couch). When Friday morning rolls around, nothing cures your turkey hangover like another full slate of college football games, followed up by a full Saturday and Sunday of more games. It’s like a four-day football nirvana.

Perhaps just as superficially, Thanksgiving is synonymous with food (and overeating). As a guy, there is nothing better than getting carte blanche to overindulge in some of the most delicious food you will eat all year. No one judges you for going back for a fourth helping of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing because they are probably on their sixth.
The real reason that Thanksgiving is the best holiday all year is that it truly does still retain all of its meaning. Ask a lot of suburban moms about “holiday stress” and they will talk your ear off for a week about it, as they have to cope with the presents and everything that goes along with the ever-expanding commercialization of Christmas. However, Thanksgiving is about being with family and giving thanks for everything that we have. How many times have people welcomed in strangers (or people that they don’t know well) into their house so that they didn’t have to spend Thanksgiving alone? We all know stories like that. I know my family has done it for a number of years now. It is a time to reconnect with people you maybe don’t see as much as you would like, and to forge bonds for years to come. And, most importantly, it is a time in which people reflect on what they have, and just how fortunate we are.

There is a reason Thanksgiving is the biggest volunteer day of the year. Even if it is only for one day, people become truly selfless, humble and loving. And that is why it’s the best.

Andy Ziccarelli is not a scrooge. He just thinks that everything has a time and a place. He is a junior majoring in civil engineering and can be reached at aziccare@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.