"Thanksgiving has lost its cultural muscle," writes Eric Felton in aWall Street Journal commentary today. He adds, "The early advent of the Santa season may have less to do with the red-and-green imperative than with the weakness of Turkey Day."
His assessment of the state of Thanksgiving in the 21st century is worth reading:
Could it be we've lost our capacity for gratitude? A successful harvest occasioned thanks back when it was all that stood between us and a long, cold, hungry winter. But now we're divorced from the seasonal rhythms of the farm, where the harvest is celebrated as the payoff of all the year's labors. Even in the midst of this Great Repression we enjoy perpetual plenty. What resonance does a cornucopia have to people who have come to expect ripe blackberries in February? If anything, we should be more grateful, but that's not our nature. Anything we struggle for, we hold dear; anything that comes easy, we take for granted.
He goes on to capture the awkwardness of trying to enjoy a family feast when some of those around the table just want to moralize about the food:
Not only don't we celebrate the astonishing abundance that is our good fortune, we whine and moan about how it makes us fat.... And if that weren't enough to squeeze the pleasure from the day, no modern Thanksgiving is complete without a college student home from school, lecturing the family on the cruelty of meat. (To which the only appropriate response is: "Does that mean you don't want the drumstick?")
He ends with an invitation to enjoy a little more of the goodness of autumn and Thanksgiving before diving into Christmas:
... before we break out the ornaments and dust off the Vince Guaraldi soundtrack, let's make the most of autumn and its particular pleasures. Jump in a pile of leaves. Savor the waning daylight. And go ahead. Week after next, eat that second slice of pumpkin pie—just be thankful for it."