We enjoyed Thanksgiving at our home in Scottsdale Arizona where the weather couldn't have been more perfect. All eight of the children, their spouses along with most of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were here with us. My sister Anita Mayer also was with us this year and it was a wonderful occasion.
Thanksgiving day has been an annual holiday in the United States since 1863. George Washington proclaimed a national Day of Thanksgiving in 1789 even though there was some controversy about doing it. President Thomas Jefferson was opposed to the idea and it was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts led to the day being recognized each year. Hale wrote many editorials in her Boston ladies magazine and after a 40 year campaign of doing so plus letters to governors and presidents it became a reality in 1863. President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national Day of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has been proclaimed by every president after Lincoln. It was in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday.
It seems to me that in our capitalistic society where big business has enormous power our holidays are gradually corrupted to serve the retail industry. Thanksgiving, for example is almost totally consumed by retail's "Black Friday." It has expanded to shopping sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving to advertising campaigns days before and the shopping day extended into several days. In all the commercial blitiz Thanksgiving is seen only as it relates to the big sale day that follows.
On top of that Christmas retail advertising starts before Thanksgiving and has become the "make or break" time for many retail stores. The tsunami of sales advertising anchored to Christmas makes it seem that Christmas is important only in relationship to buying things.
Name the holiday and we find retail has taken it over so that it is seen by most as a day related to buying something. The card industry has a card for any "day" you can name. Any religious significance of most holidays is largely lost and totally lost in the advertising for the event.
I understand the need to sell as a retail outlet. I realize the advertisement will be concentrated on whatever media is most productive and I understand the subtle techniques of advertisement. However, I wonder how many people believe it is important to be able to buy things to be happy and the more the happier.
I should also acknowledge all the volunteers and charities that provide so much support at Thanksgiving, Christmas and throughout the year. In doing so, they honor the spirit of the holiday. Thank you to all of them.