Please don't call it Turkey Day. This holiday has more class than that.
It was in the depths of the Civil War that President Lincoln proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. Americans needed it then and we need it now. The occasion is Thanksgiving Day and we should be thankful for that.
At a time when most holidays have been commercialized, overhauled, and shifted to allow for longer weekends, Thanksgiving has managed to retain its self-respect. It's still on the fourth Thursday of November, just the way Lincoln planned it. For the most part, it has been spared the Madison Avenue treatment. It mercifully has been exempted from the massive trappings which have made other holidays ponderous.
Despite valiant efforts by the greeting card companies, most people don't worry about sending Thanksgiving cards. There is no expectation of gifts. Kids don't get their hopes up about candy and toys. You don't have to dress up in costumes and go to crowded parties.
There are no Thanksgiving songs blaring from department store speakers. You don't have to decorate your house. No one expects to see you in a new set of clothes and there are no groundhogs, leprechauns, rabbits, or reindeer associated with it.
We can be thankful for all of these things. Thanksgiving is a simple holiday in theory and usually in practice. They only obligation is to attend a feast. Most of us can handle that.
We need this holiday that demands so little from most of us. Those who are responsible for preparing a 20-pound turkey with dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, peas, and pumpkin pie may disagree, but overall it's a day of relaxing and being with the family. It is also, I hope, a day for thinking about the purpose that Mr. Lincoln had in mind.
I'm a little worried, though, that Thanksgiving is losing its identity. It is being swallowed up in the Christmas frenzy which, like the Blob, is spreading up the calendar a little every year.
It now begins just after the Halloween decorations come down in the stores. Shop early. Shop often. Put up your Christmas tree. Get out the decorations. Get your Christmas cards and packages to the post office. Check your shopping list. Arrange those parties. Santa arrives on Friday. Which Friday? Why, the one right after Thanksgiving, of course.
It won't be long before Thanksgiving is known chiefly for its strategic location as the day before the biggest shopping day of the year. Some people probably think it was invented in order to give shoppers a day to exercise their charge card reflexes and prepare their shopping shoes. Others, I'm afraid, are beginning to look upon Thanksgiving as a creation of the television networks to allow more daytime football. Children may be getting the idea that the day is primarily for Santa Claus parades.
We need Thanksgiving. I hope that it can hold its own against the tide of tidings which precede the huge holiday which follows. If we observe Thanksgiving properly, we'll take time to take stock of our blessings: family, friends, home, church--all of those things that make life rich and dear. We'll take stock, we'll think, and we'll give thanks.
Please. Don't call it Turkey Day.
Please Don't Call it Turkey Day