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The shrinking role of Thanksgiving

By Paul Viau | Nov 27, 2013
Photo by: File Photo HAPPY TURKEY DAY — Don't just gobble your Thanksgiving dinner. Take time to celebrate with family.

Remember when Thanksgiving was a real family affair, with three or more generations gathering in celebration? Even if you were forced to eat at the “kiddie table” — where I was seated until I reached my early thirties — Thanksgiving was a wonderfully day of celebration, rich with tradition.

I was a city kid, so we didn’t exactly travel “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.” Still, we made our way — casseroles in hand — to the home of the designated family host and hostess for the year. The honor rotated between my parents, and two other aunts who lived nearby. Every family contributed their favorite Thanksgiving dish or two, but we never strayed too far from the requisite turkey and gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie for dessert.

I remember the year my Aunt Isabel broke tradition and served an elegant picnic ham. It just wasn’t well received.

“Isn’t it a little early for Easter?”

“Where’s the turkey?”

“I want white meat.”

“Why can’t you have stuffing with ham?”

Yes, my Aunt Isabel was a troublemaker, but we all managed to feast our way through dinner, happily enjoyed our choice of pies for dessert, then watched the Detroit Lions vs. ‘some other team’ on the big console TV.

I don’t know what Detroit did to deserve their perennial Thanksgiving slot on the NFL schedule, but I felt sorry for the players, because they couldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving with their families.

These days, I feel even more sorry for the teams playing football on Thanksgiving Day because no one is watching them, except the hoards of shoppers crowding by the synchronized sea of televisions at Best Buy.

And what about those employees at Best Buy, Walmart, K-Mart, Target, Macy’s, etc, etc. They have to give up the peace and quiet of Thanksgiving with family for the pushing and shoving of the ‘shop ‘til they drop’ mob crowds. Not a good trade.

Yes, Thanksgiving is taking a back seat, and Black Friday has stepped right up to the table — a day early — to feed off the consumer hoards.

If this trend continues, we will have less and less to be thankful for, and retailers will find more and more ways to ‘dig in’ to our wallets.

That’s why I am asking all of my readers to lay low this Thanksgiving. Spend it with your family and extended family, and have a quiet day of thankful reflection. Then take a hike on Friday and enjoy our beautiful mountains in their naked splendor. Save you shopping for Saturday, Nov. 30 — Small Business Saturday. As local merchants are always urging us, “Shop small.”

Visit the stores owned and operated by your friends and neighbors. Give them the business. Show them you really care.

I’ll have a few specific suggestions for keeping your focus local in my next column.

In the meantime, have a Happy Thanksgiving.