Is Thanksgiving embarrassing?

Is Thanksgiving embarrassing?
Robert Louis Stevenson

In the headlong rush (at least among stores) to get Christmas decorations out -- or, if you prefer, to "get the holiday season started" -- it seems to me that we're forgetting a major holiday.

Whatever happened to Thanksgiving?

I remember multi-colored "Indian" corn on doors, Pilgrim figures on wreaths and signs, and plenty of orange-and-brown decorations before the red-and-green -- and I remember them not so long ago.

As I flinched last week at the first sights of Christmas decorations, I turned to Bartlett's Familiar Quotations to find some wisdom about Thanksgiving. I found several quotations for the coming days, but here's the one that struck me first and hardest:

"Gratitude is but a lame sentiment; thanks, when they are expressed, are often more embarrassing than welcome."

-- from "Underwoods," 1887, by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).

Could we be avoiding embarrassment by brushing aside Thanksgiving? Are we embarrassed about being grateful? I think my old friend Louis might be onto something here. We need to be grateful, as hard as it can be to express and accept.

Thank you for reading, whether it's your first time here or your 151st-plus time. I'm glad you're here. (See, I'm practicing, too.)

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  • Just the merchants taking over, as indicated by that WLIT has started its Christmas music.* On the other hand, "reserve your hormone free non-GMO turkey" was a couple of weeks ago. Basically I couldn't figure out why the [department store I won't name] Santa parade was on Thanksgiving.

    *I think someone commented a couple of years ago about the lack of Thanksgiving music, not to mention that Canadian Thanksgiving is on Columbus Day.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes, I suppose it comes down to merchandising.... i.e., selling. But I can't help thinking of blushes and "Aw, shucks, you shouldn't have" when I think of reactions to thanks.

    As for the lack of Thanksgiving music, I protest -- I have a hymn, "Let All Things Now Living," stuck in my head lately. (As you might guess from the title, the first verse goes on to mention "a song of Thanksgiving.") There are lots of others, the most powerful (to me) being "Now Thank We All Our God." (There, that knocks the other music out of my ear.)

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    But the question is whether any of those have to do with the 4th Thursday in November.

  • Whether it's the fourth Thursday in November or a Monday in October (as north of the border), the idea is to have a particular day set aside to take stock and give thanks. I don't think the day on the calendar is nearly as important as the habit.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    That wasn't my question, or maybe I didn't make my point clearly enough. Just because there are hymns for giving thanks doesn't mean they deal with the holiday Thanksgiving, just like not everything about Christ has to do with Christmas. Turning it around,there is "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer", but not "Timmy the Big Breast Turkey," or "Come Alll Ye Wampanoag."

  • At life's banquet when you get a plateful
    Of good fortune, don't think of it fateful.
    Since no man's an isle,
    Every once in a while,
    Take the time to show others you're grateful.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you. I'm grateful for your poetic ability -- again.

  • I hope it's not as I think it's a great holiday - the menu is set, no gifts, no cards and you don't fantasize that you can have it outside.

    Maybe it's not as current as gratitude journals?

    I often wish it was earlier - the Canadians are on to something.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    They have Grey Cup (the Canadian Football League championship) around our Thanksgiving. One time a Toronto hotel tried to hold me up on our Thanksgiving, based on a Grey Cup surcharge, but I demonstrated to them that the reservation center had me at the regular rate.

  • In reply to jack:

    Grey Cup surcharge, eh? I wonder whether the Super Bowl cities have heard of it. Well done.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thanks. It's definitely not as current as gratitude journals -- which are tempting to me, but I'll try to turn my usual diary toward more gratitude instead of starting something separate.
    I agree, the Canadians have something with the earlier celebration -- definitely more harvest-time than ours, as far as I can tell.

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