Baby Jesus would not approve

Something is missing.

I’ve looked for it in my neighborhood, at the mall, on television. Nothing.

It was a homely little thing that used to pop in once a year between the end of October and the beginning of December. When it came to visit, it usually brought with it some family — both blood kin and chosen. I didn’t have to get all dressed up, although I usually busted out the good china just for fun. I didn’t have to spend days decorating for it’s arrival or un-decorating after it had gone. I didn’t have to attend an interminably long church service just because of it (don’t tell Brother I said that!).

It always brought good food, my favorite food, food that was to be had only once a year. It knew Mama liked “hand pie” and that I liked pecan. It always brought both. And there was usually some wine, a little for me and a little for the old bird…a little more for me.

We enjoyed its company. It was fun. Relaxed. It liked football. And napping. And long walks in the woods. Maybe it should take out a personal ad to increase its popularity, because frankly it surely doesn’t seem very popular any more.

Our old friend Thanksgiving has been lost in the holiday shuffle, a mere bump in the road to grandma’s house between Halloween and Christmas. A bump in the road much like a dead possum — we race right by it, scattering Autumn leaves and hauling a Tupperware container of leftovers as we stumble headlong into the marketing mayhem called Christmas. The skeletons are barely back in their closets nowadays before the Christmas lights are up and the carols are playing.

For the record, I’m against it. With every fiber of my being I loathe seeing/hearing/smelling/tasting anything that has to do with Christmas before the last crumb of pumpkin pie has been snarfed up, much less weeks before I’ve even thought about purchasing the first can of Libby’s. I feel horrible for the poor folks who have to leave their own families to go work for Black Friday cum Gray Thursday Evening cum Slightly Off White Wednesday. Baby Jesus would not approve.

Nor do I. Bah humbug.

Thanksgiving is certainly no wild commercial success. The pilgrim hat and Puritan garb do not lend themselves to party wear. We don’t give scads of elaborate gifts wrapped in festive burnt umber and tangerine. Old Saint Brigit, patron saint of poultry farmers, doesn’t leave her mystical coop in desolate rocky Ireland to break and enter into your house and leave little surprises in your sock. No strings of lights shaped like maize and acorns adorn every twig in the yard. Hand-print turkey art anyone?

But Thanksgiving gives us so much more than just sustenance to fuel our rabid Christmas shopping. Mercifully lacking in gaudy finery, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on the things we are truly thankful for. And I’m not talking about a 30 day slog through social media one-upsmanship. I’m talking about truly counting your blessings, quietly and sincerely.

Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to share the day with family and friends who are just like family without the pressure of gift giving, the distraction of presents, the looming debt. A chance to focus on the people, not the shiny stuff. A chance to commune over a hot meal and the concomitant leftovers.

I have a feeling my old friend will show up again though. Probably about the time Tom Turkey rolls out on his way to Herald Square, followed by the Broadway numbers, the Rockettes, the balloons (Kermit is always my favorite), and ending with the Man his ownself — Santa Claus. At least Macy’s remembers. Yes, Virginia, there is still a Thanksgiving.