There are no presents connected with it, not even the Easter Bunny’s eggs. There are no fireworks shows. No fright masks. No big auto race. No marching orders to attend church, whether the spirit moves one to do so or not.
It is, simply, a celebration of having lived another year and having the companionship and support of family and friends. It is an event looked forward to by everyone, except maybe the turkey population. Yet, it demands almost nothing of us except a good appetite.
How it manages to retain its stature as one of the nation’s top holidays with “so little going for it,” in the modern sense, is remarkable.
Perhaps it is because it is a pause before the hectic season to follow. The day after Thanksgiving officially launches the traditional Christmas rush (although many merchants once more appear to be rushing the season this year). Perhaps merchants can’t wait but consumers need all the rest they can get for what is to come.
OR, IT MAY BE a bit more philosophical than that. It is what it purports to be: a day for giving thanks.
Originally, as created by the Pilgrims, it was thanks for the harvest, thanks for the ability to simply survive in a new land.
It remains so, though the harvest it salutes has changed and expanded: thanks for reaping love, thanks for the crop of family, thanks for the seeds of friendships.
It retains jubilation for survival: thanks for health, thanks for shelter, thanks for having work, without which there would be nothing to take a day off from.
Even those without some or all of these things have their own special reasons to like this day, as all the free feasts prove: Thanks for living in a nation where neighbors care.
So, as the day dawns, as the smell of roasting turkey fills the autumn air on this date always marked by nothing particularly special, let’s all remember that this is precisely why it is so special.
It is what it is; it celebrates only what we are; it honors only what we let ourselves be; it asks nothing but that we appreciate what we have.
ENJOY. Enjoy your selves.
This editorial originally appeared in the Rome News-Tribune in 1993 and continues to accurately reflect what makes the holiday so special.