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The World Needs A Day Of Thanksgiving

By James Donahue

Thanksgiving is perhaps among the best of the American holidays. It has no religious connotations, but is a day when we all gather with friends and family to reflect feelings of gratitude for the blessings in our lives. Unfortunately not all of the people in the world share in such a celebration.

It may be just as well. Americans have done a very good job of spoiling the spirit of the holiday in every way possible.

Gluttony, the commercialization of the Christmas spending spree and major league football games have worked their way into the scene in many homes that those feelings of thanksgiving are all but overlooked. It has evolved into a day off from the job and a day to spend on self-gratification to the extreme.

Intense and professionally designed television advertising campaigns literally brainwash the masses into rushing off to the stores to spend money they don’t have to buy costly gifts they don’t need. Since it falls just over a month before Christmas, Thanksgiving has become the trigger point to launch the "Holiday Season."

It has become a tradition among the big chain stores to advertise big promotional sales that create panic buying on another undeclared holiday; Black Friday. This is a fitting name for the day after Thanksgiving. It is a day when many workers are still celebrating a four-day holiday weekend so whole families can participate in the downtown insanity.

But this year for the first time . . . in their rush to beat out the competition and get the Christmas shopping season launched, many stores are holding that Black Friday sale event on Thanksgiving Day. So instead of staying home with friends and family and reflecting on the blessings we share, a lot of Americans will be spending the day fighting crowds and traffic in a quest to grab a "grateful" bargain before somebody else gets it.

Notice that a lot of television news anchors are referring to Thanksgiving as "Turkey Day." This is because it has become tradition for people to consume a rich turkey dinner complete with mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, rich salads and side dishes that include pumpkin pie topped with whipping cream.

Laced with the tryptophan packed in the turkey, the next step is to hit the soft chairs and sofas in the living room to sleep the rest of the day off while the men keep one eye open to watch the football game as the blaring television overpowers any chance of conversation.

And in case some of us lack anything to do with ourselves during the morning hours, while the women slave in the kitchen preparing that feast, there are the Thanksgiving Day Parades to watch. These are a subliminal message calling all Americans to the store to start their Christmas shopping spree.

And like good zombies, this is exactly what we do. I am not sure how people are going to work shopping into the other self-gratification events that have long been part of the holiday, but I am sure many of them will be among the crowds when stores open their doors on Thanksgiving Day.

This will be the picture in a lot of American homes this year . . . but not all.

So what in hell have we done to ourselves? Have we forgotten that millions of Americans are presently out of work, living on food-stamps and many of them homeless and living on the street?

Fortunately many churches, charity organizations and just plain benevolent Americans have not forgotten. They are going to be busy on Thanksgiving Day serving hot meals and comfort to these unfortunate souls.

Unfortunately, the warm Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday spirit appears to be a seasonal thing. Will the poor and homeless be neglected during the long cold months of winter that follow? And what about the people caught up in the wars sweeping so many other parts of the world? There is no day of thanksgiving this week for them.

The world desperately needs a respite from its constant struggle and intense emotions of fear and hate. Wouldn’t it be grand if we all could lay down our guns and set aside our differences for this holiday season and let everybody experience a real time of peace and joy?

Who knows? The idea might catch on.