As a weekly columnist, I try to write about everyday life. I’m not really interested, nor do I have much talent for, journalism or reporting news. I leave that to the professionals! However, I do think what I have to say today qualifies as a huge news story.
You see, if you walk around any town locally — Troy, West Milton, Tipp City, Covington, Piqua, probably even Dayton — you will quickly see evidence of what I’m about to tell you. Americans do not celebrate a significant American holiday in our stores, in our streets, and possibly in our homes.
It’s called Thanksgiving.
Halloween happened on Oct. 31, just as it has for about 80 or 90 years. That’s less than a century. There’s no evidence in old newspapers, magazines, or almanacs that Halloween was celebrated in America until about the mid-1920s, so it’s safe to say it’s a relatively new, albeit terrifically fun, holiday.
About 54 days after Halloween (okay exactly 54 days), we celebrate the birth of Jesus. There are some other holidays in the mix during this time — Veteran’s Day, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa — but we’ve been honoring Christmas on Dec. 25 since 336 A.D. At least, that’s the first recorded time that Christmas was celebrated on this date. This was during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A couple of years later, Pope Julius I officially declared this to be the day of Christmas celebration.
So this holiday has been around for over 16 centuries. According to the Gregorian calendar (the one we have used since 1582), there are those 54 days between Halloween and Christmas. That’s a lot of time. That includes seven weeks of autumn and, did I mention, Thanksgiving?
We’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving feasts since 1623 in our country, but to look around our towns, you’d never know it. Go into a store and try to find Thanksgiving items. Remember those aisles and aisles devoted to Halloween stuff? Masks, costumes, candles, garden gnomes, candy, platters, bowls, house décor and the rest? Well, they’re all gone (or in the “drastically reduced” section). Replacing them are aisles and aisles of Christmas décor, candy, food, towels, soaps, gift packages, cards, and other items all about Christmas.
On one little shelf, you might find some Thanksgiving paper plates and napkins. Those awful, stiff napkins that appear to have been made from notebook paper. There’s not a tablecloth, hand towel, centerpiece, wall art, candle, or placemat for Thanksgiving.
Even the holiday itself has been reduced to a mere countdown to when the stores will open so the masses can go out and save 20 cents on — you guessed it — Christmas gifts. That’s not Thanksgiving to me at all. I can’t believe we can’t devote one aisle to celebrate the harvest, our good fortune, and our blessings.
I’ll have to use my 40-year-old Thanksgiving trolls, my stuffed turkey, and the autumn themed tablecloth for yet another year. Despite the lack of hoopla elsewhere, our home will be filled with all the people and things for which I give thanks!
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Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. She keeps busy taking care of husband, house, and pets. She and her husband have an adult son who lives in Troy.