Wal-Mart announced this week they will return the word "Christmas" to their seasonal greetings. Good move, especially given their faithful hick-hop constituency. No more generic salutations that so many of us carped about last year, when many merchants dropped Christ from his own holy day so as not to offend non-believers.
We still have a way to go. The nearby nursery is advertising "Holiday Trees" and the local school is staging a "Winter Pageant" with small children singing, "We wish you a Merry Sparkle Season!" But before we restart the campaign to reChristianize Christmas, would someone please save Thanksgiving?
I thought we had made some progress a couple of years ago when retailer Macy's repented of renaming their annual streetside festival "The Macy's Day Parade," abandoning thanks altogether. But now, it seems to me the beachhead is slipping. This year the radio station in my city that plays wall-to-wall Christmas music plugged in Rudolph earlier than ever. The station manager saw two snowflakes outside his office window at 10 a.m. on November 2 and by noon had switched the format to 24-hour Christmas tunes. True story. Chalk one up for Santa. And the advertising department.
We're losing Thanksgiving.
I don't mean to sound like Chicken Little (or Turkey Lurkey?), but the one day set aside to contemplate our blessings and their divine origin has, in one generation, been reduced to a football orgy and now, for football widows, a jumpstart on the biggest shopping day of the year as more stores open on the sacred Thursday.
In years past, I have always looked forward to the annual recitation of things we're thankful for, both around my own table and in the public discourse. Chicago Tribune columnist Joan Beck captured it so well with her annual and often alliterative Thanksgiving prayer:
"Our Father's God to Thee, author of Liberty, we thank you for fathers and founding fathers and father figures, for the Internet if we can figure it out and interactive TV if we can manage it, for sundaes and Saturdays and TGIF, for DNA and AZT and CD-ROM, for a port in the storm and a bridge over trouble, for cocoa after caroling and dawn after dark, for healing after hurt and rest after work, and blessed promise of life after life forevermore" (from her 1994 column).
But dear Joan Beck is dead. Santa is seizing November. And Pilgrims, once champions of religious freedom, are being sacrificed as bigots on the altar of political correctness. So who's calling us all to give thanks now?
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