Thanksgiving is as American as apple pie, yet many Americans may not have celebrated the holiday this year. This national holiday celebrates the harvest initially done by pilgrims in the newly developing colonies. Today, Thanksgiving is an over inflated food fest that marks the start of the holiday shopping season in the United States. American ire is raised over politics, rising gas prices, unemployment, and cultural differences in today’s climate, making Thanksgiving an irrelevant celebration when everyone’s asking, “Who’s giving thanks?”
The first Thanksgiving
The first celebration was a pilgrim Thanksgiving for the ability to thrive in colonized land. Their boon was the Indians bane. The pilgrims thrived while systematically eradicating the native population. They went on to enslave them in a primitive system that evolved into generational slavery with African captives. They killed many natives with disease, introducing foreign bacteria into the environment. And, eventually, they pushed them into small corners of land and gave them liquor to pacify angry spirits. So what were American settlers celebrating at Thanksgiving? They were celebrating their ability to thrive. The point of the Thanksgiving celebration was settlers’ ability to change their situation at home into a fortunate turn of events in new land. The first Thanksgiving was victory of one culture over another in the native cultures territory. And the colonizers celebrated the ability to learn from the culture they found, adopt food and behaviors that would help them survive, and oppress and create a labor force in a foreign land.
Today, Americans just came off a mid-term election where there was a changing of the guard with politicians. Americans pointed out that, though claims exist the recession is over, gas continues to rise, job creation is not occurring quickly enough, and the people are suffering. So, who’s giving thanks? The Americans who were fortunate to get jobs or keep them in the last two years are giving thanks. However, they are keeping their money in their pockets as frugal living is a smart measure in dangerous financial climate. Many families may not have celebrated this national holiday because they couldn’t afford to and may be bitter over lifestyle changes because of the economy. Some, like my own household, are just saving money by making less for the mini-holiday before Christmas, the grand deal. Thanksgiving certainly does hold the same meaning today as it did when it originated. Any family celebrating with a meal will certainly be giving thanks to thrive or just survive the economic forces affecting so many of the population.
This year Thanksgiving felt off the radar with economic woes at the forefront of the public’s worries. Businesses put out the Christmas decorations this year right after Halloween, sensing the mood of the now frugal public. They capatalized on getting the public to spend, using layaway commercials that started running in October. Stepping over Thanksgiving, businesses are pushing people into a Christmas and post-Christmas spend earlier than ever to generate dollars for the season. Also, gas prices are continuing to spike with no word about why prices are so high. With little money to spend and budgeting and thifty-ness becoming a way of life, Thanksgiving for any reason is not relevant any more.
A holiday as American as apple pie almost didn’t exist this year. Americans, once steeped in culture, order, and traditions they created over time, seem to be distancing themselves from symbols of order and stability. If Thanksgiving for our lives, our families, and our way of life is off the menu in this country, what’s next?