News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion Columns

November 20, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: Have we lost the meaning of holiday?

TERRE HAUTE — I’ve been considering a lost-and-found ad to see if anyone knows what’s happened to Thanksgiving.

I remember it as a festive day falling toward the end of November which featured a family get together with too much food and a chance to loosen your belt, kick back and reflect on our blessings.

Now, somewhere between taking down the blow-up plastic ghosts and inflating the plastic Santas, we are left with only “Black Friday” to mark the spot where Thanksgiving once held pride of place on the November calendar.

Mom and Dad joined the horrified majority when President Roosevelt thought to stimulate the economy during the Depression by moving Thanksgiving back a week to extend the Christmas shopping season. People didn’t take to the idea of celebrating on the third Thursday rather than the usual fourth Thursday and the innovation lasted only for one year. Furthermore, if memory serves, our turkey was served on the fourth Thursday that year no matter what the president said.

Magazines, newspapers, television and even Internet have been extolling the bargains to be had the day after Thanksgiving. The catch is that you must position yourself to be among the first in the shop when the door is flung open — in some cases as early as 6 a.m. I’ve known friends who line up as early as 2:30 a.m. before their turkey is fully digested, hoping to be close enough to the door they won’t be trampled to death in the rush for a bargain.

Since a lot of the bargains involve electronic stuff that I don’t want — but manufacturers are convinced that everyone wants — I prefer to sleep in the morning after the feeding frenzy and reflect on Mom’s advice, “Never buy anything on sale for which you would not be willing to pay full price!”

Needless to say, you will not find me camped out in the dark and cold early on the morning of Nov. 23. I am well ahead on my Christmas shopping and may be addressing Christmas cards with a break about noon to make a leftover turkey sandwich.

I will remember the hungry who got a basket of goodies so they may celebrate with the rest of us. I will also remember that many are hungry 365 days a year, not just on Thanksgiving and I will count my many blessings.

I look forward to Thanksgiving, but I miss the leisure and the meaning of the Thanksgiving of old.

Liz Ciancone is a retired tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to opinion@tribstar.com.

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