Tomorrow people in north and middle North America, also known as Canada and the United States, will celebrate Thanksgiving.
While there are of course other areas of the world that celebrate a day of thanks over the course of the year the American and Canadian version are the most similar to each other and just so happen to occur on the same day.
I am sure we all remember the stories from grade school when we made construction paper hats and played pilgrim while learning about the first Thanksgiving feast which may or may not have had fish as the main course instead of what we have today.
This year is also the first time since 1888 that Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah both occur on the same day.
Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are both times to reflect on what we are thankful for and spend time together with friends and family.
Of course in recent years Thanksgiving seems to have become less about the time with family and more about the planning for Black Friday shopping.
While stores once waited until the predawn hours of Friday to start their sales, more and more stores are now opening on Thanksgiving day to allow shoppers to get an even earlier start on the holiday of commercialism.
When I was younger very few stores were open on Thanksgiving. There were of course the diners like Waffle House that never closed their doors and a smattering of gas stations and convenience stores to help travelers reach their destinations.
Aside from that you would be hard pressed to really find anything open on Thanksgiving that counted as a shopping experience.
During college I worked for Albertson’s grocery store. At that time Albertson’s was the only grocery store in town that was open on Thanksgiving which meant that I worked on Thanksgiving.
I was amazed at the number of shoppers who seemed genuinely surprised that a grocery store would be open on Thanksgiving to which I would usually respond, “Well we are here because we knew people like you would have last minute items to get.”
And most of the customers were getting one or two items that had been forgotten during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving (I lost count of how many cans of cranberry sauce I rang up). There were of course also a few people that decided that Thanksgiving was a good time to do their monthly shopping as well.
The first year I worked on Thanksgiving was also the first year that I did not spend Thanksgiving with my parents. They went to Georgia to visit my grandmother but they were kind enough to leave me a cooked turkey leg before they left.
While I did not like missing time with my family due to having to work I could understand that a grocery store being open on Thanksgiving was providing a service to help bring those family gatherings together.
What I can’t get behind are stores that do not sell groceries being open on Thanksgiving just so people can shop for the latest gadget or other must have item.
Such is the world we live in today where even the thought of taking one day to reflect on thankfulness is turned into a reflection on give-me-ness. In the coming years I fear that all stores will be open on Thanksgiving as the commercial aspects and need to make a buck trumps the tradition of the holiday.
Speaking of traditions I will be heading once more to see my parents for Thanksgiving as they were kind enough to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to make the trip out to see my grandmother this year.
As in years past with Thanksgiving with my parents there will be parades and football to watch and of course lots of food to consume while watching the parades and the football.
One thing that there will not be this Thanksgiving however is ham. The lack of ham on the table has become an area of debate over the last few years between my mother and me.
For my part I recall that Thanksgiving was always a two meat holiday where both turkey and ham were on the table joined by stuffing and various other side dishes of the season.
My mother is convinced that Thanksgiving was always about turkey and that the ham was only on the table for Christmas and Easter.
It is hard to say who is right in the meaty debate since neither of us is backing down from our positions any time soon. What is known is that ham and other pork derivatives are my favorite type of meat.
Given the choice and an unlimited ability to process sodium I would have some part of a pig for every meal whether it was ham, bacon, pork ribs, or pulled pork.
So while I would love to have some nice warm ham tomorrow I am resigned to the fact that the only meat on the table will be from a plump flightless bird.
But Thanksgiving is not about the food, it is about the time with family. And for my family it is also about a house divided over the Dallas Cowboys.
I am just glad that I will have a decent Baltimore Ravens game to watch tomorrow night after witnessing what I hope is another colossal collapse by the Cowboys in the fourth quarter.
So on this Thanksgiving spend time with your families if you can and know that the shopping can wait. But if you simply must shop on Thanksgiving remember that we have the internet for that so you can order all of those must have items from the comfort of your couch with your belt undone because you are too full of turkey and pecan pie to move.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to see about finding somewhere to get a nice ham I can sneak into the Thanksgiving feast. I am sure I can hide it under some stuffing.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson