Common Ground: The disappearance of November

Nick Bratcher

November comes before December. And yet, if you took a look around society today, you wouldn’t know it.

Flip on a TV. I dare you to find a commercial about Thanksgiving, even if it’s just a joke and not some sappy ad about family values — a play on starving pilgrims or the intelligence of turkeys.

I’ll take anything.

Instead, what you’ll find is a million advertisements about how Santa needs a new Lexus or another installment of those two adorable M&M candy guys trying to discover if Santa is real.

Heck, I’m willing to bet that even when Thanksgiving Day rolls around and the traditional football games are played, their commercials will not even be about the actual holiday that they’re celebrating.

They’ll be about Black Friday. Mark it down now.

But why can’t November just be itself?

Yes, I know that Christmas inspires people to buy more stuff, not just as gifts for others but for themselves too. That explains the TV ads.

But why can’t Thanksgiving sell? Why can’t it be a sexy holiday too?

I think it really comes down to something very sad about the country we live in today.

We would rather spend time fantasizing about what is not than being thankful for what is, which is what Thanksgiving is truly about.

Even in our best moments, we’d rather spend time imagining what our parents’ reactions will be to our gifts than being thankful for our parents themselves.

Don’t believe me? When’s the last time you reflected on how much your parents or friends have done for you, maybe even played out your life without them?

But I can guarantee you’ve thought about that smile they’ll have this year as they open their present. Or you will once you buy it.

And of course, there’s nothing wrong on the surface with being happy for your parents’ or friends’ future happiness.

But why does that have to cost us thankfulness in the present?

As Christmas encroaches into even October these days, we’re losing the necessity of Thanksgiving.

And I’m as guilty as anyone about it.

It mostly boils down to a heart issue of selfishness in a society that is all about the individual pursuit of happiness.

I crave the satisfaction that I feel when I make my loved ones happy.

But what do I get out of humble reflection on my complete destitution without their contribution to my life?

It certainly isn’t pride.

The bottom line is that Thanksgiving is not supposed to be pre-Christmas.

I love Christmas spirit as much as the next person.

I’m a big fan of the warmth that Christmas brings about in people —something I do not see as dead despite the capitalist takeover of Christmas.

We’re not beyond charity, so I’m not going to preach from my soapbox that this development is all bad as Christmas takes over November.

Besides, eggnog on the shelves in October is pretty much the best development ever. Can I get an amen?

But if we’re not careful, we’re going to lose Thanksgiving altogether.

And quite honestly, we can’t afford that any more than we can afford that new Lexus.