By Tim Hayes
“Oh, for cryin’ out loud, you have got to be kidding,” I said to no one, while driving down the highway the other day. “This is getting to be just stupid.”
The thing that got my dander up? An announcement on the radio that around-the-clock Christmas music was about to begin. The second week of November. Ridiculous!
I assume that somewhere in the deep recesses of radio conglomerate corporate offices, reams of research attest that more people want to hear Christmas music before we change the clocks back. I can’t imagine who these lunatics might be, but what the heck do I know?
So we get inundated with “Silent Night” on Veteran’s Day. Nat King Cole warbling about roasting chestnuts on Election Day. “Mary, Did You Know” that we’re still six weeks from the big day? I doubt that she and Joseph, safe there in Nazareth, had the slightest idea that they’d even need to travel to Bethlehem at this point, but here we sit today, getting plowed under musically over it.
And the worst part? Thanksgiving gets shoved off the stage almost entirely. A recent opinion column in the Washington Post by Alexandra Petri said that the modern Christmas season “is waging a slow and brutal war on Thanksgiving.” What a great line. I wish I’d written it, but I’ll have to remain content giving Ms. Petri credit.
Our far-wiser predecessors established Thanksgiving as a day to do just that – give thanks for all of the blessings and opportunities and advantages we enjoy as Americans. No other holiday has been designed in quite the same way specifically to bring families together.
Instead, the fourth Thursday in November has been permitted to morph into a staging area for maniacal consumerism. A chance to get one’s feet securely in the starting blocks, waiting for the starter’s pistol to fire at midnight, unleashing credit cards, layaway purchases, and full parking lots at the mall. It ain’t right, I tell ya.
Lucy, in the annual Charlie Brown special, laments that Christmas “is run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.” As a child, I had no idea what that meant. Today I do, and it makes me sad to think she may be right.
How did Thanksgiving get relegated into becoming the George Harrison of holidays? The one you know is there, and holds its own just fine, but somehow never draws the same wattage of attention and interest. Poor George. When Frank Sinatra performed live concerts in his later years, he always included the song, “Something,” and took special effort to thank John Lennon and Paul McCartney for writing such a lovely piece of music.
Just one problem. George Harrison wrote “Something.” Sigh. It had to be tough living in second-fiddledom all those years.
Here’s a way to give Thanksgiving its proper due. This year, in between the big New York balloons and the Dallas or Detroit football games, take a second to think and thank all those folks whose work and expertise typically go unnoticed and unrecognized. The mechanics who keep airliners functioning properly and safely – even though the pilots get all the glory. Maintenance workers, maids, and sanitary engineers, who keep our lives clean and safe and comfortable.
And, perhaps most important of all, those teachers who spend innumerable hours before and after the school day, and who invest their own salaries to purchase supplies for their students’ use, all to achieve the best educational opportunities for each child in their charge. The way that teachers have been mischaracterized, vilified, and scapegoated in this society is a disgrace. They deserve our full-throated support. Pupils spend more time with teachers than their parents! Teachers help to shape the future. We need to respect, stand beside, and thank our teachers, without question, without hesitation, and without fail.
I won’t be listening to that all-Christmas music station for a few weeks. There’s another holiday coming up that deserves attention first. And for that, I’m thankful.
Copyright 2017 Timothy P. Hayes