Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Halston Media papers on Thursday, Nov. 22.
It’s that time of year when it seems every other person we run into voices the obligatory observation made almost in unison as November nears its middle: “It’s already Thanksgiving? How can that be?!” Yet, somehow, here we be.
National holidays like Thanksgiving and Memorial Day have rich, even sacred pedigrees that, as time trudges on, tend to fade into the mist, becoming less relevant to latter generations.
It’s long been low-hanging fruit for comedians and serious commentators alike to point out that national holidays, despite popular perception, were not created by ad agencies to sell cars, TVs and mattresses.
The mother of all reminders to respect holiday backstory is “Keep Christ in Christmas.”
In our culture of runaway consumerism, the sanctity of paying homage to 17th century native Americans and European immigrants is being diluted by the day that follows it. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if, to my future grandkids, Thanksgiving becomes known as Black Friday Eve.
All of this agonizing compelled me to find out how the intervening years since Plymouth Colony have treated the bones of Thanksgiving as a day of remembrance and of gratitude, held in recognition of our collective heritage.
To seek answers, I went to my Dora the Explorer detective kit, also known as Google. I entered “Thanksgiving” to see what the world-at-large is dying to know about the rich history that informs the holiday.
I was not disappointed in what I unearthed. Granted, my expectations were low: I didn’t exactly expect to find at the top of the first Google page of results a passenger manifest of The Mayflower.
What I did glean from Google, which spit out more than a half-billion listings for the key word “Thanksgiving,” are the following things that we are most eager to know about this special day, in this top-down order…
1) When is Thanksgiving in 2018? (When-Is.com)
2) 2018 NFL Thanksgiving Schedule (CBS Sports)
3) Here’s the Thanksgiving dinner you can get for $50 at Acme, Aldi, Trader Joe’s… (CNBC.com)
4) How to Cook a Turkey for Thanksgiving (Newsweek)
5) Thanksgiving 2018 US Federal holidays, Office Holidays (officeholidays.com)
6) List of retailers that will be closed on Thanksgiving 2018 (AOL Finance)
7) When is Thanksgiving Day 2018 & 2019? (calendarpedia.com)
8) Thanksgiving 2018: The 75 major US stores closed for the holiday (independent.co.uk)
9) Thanksgiving 2018: 30 Stores That Will Be Closed on Thanksgiving (parade.com)
And I bet you cynically assumed that, at Thanksgiving, America would be obsessing over such indulgences as shopping, eating, days off from work, and football? Well, you couldn’t be more right.
Actually, I was heartened to discover, after the first five pages of Google results, this… “Thanksgiving 2018: HISTORY.” Aha! We have not altogether lost our sense of perspective. We’ve just buried it on the bottom of page six of Google.
The History.com entry I found there is concisely informative. Without the help of Google, I would not have readily recalled that it was 1621 when “Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast.”
That means three years from now—2021—marks the quatercentenary of @therealThanksgiving, whose celebrants probably didn’t realize they created an attraction so crowd-pleasing it would go on to have a longer run than even Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera. (They also probably didn’t use that Twitter handle.)
One more History.com fun fact before I go and stuff my face with stuffing: In 1863, in the thick of the Civil War, it was our 16th president “who proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.” That Abraham Lincoln always was thinkin’, wasn’t he?
So, on this 397th anniversary of that seminal sit-down dinner that we continue to honor on the fourth Thursday of the 11th month, I’m sure you can guess what, along with millions of other Americans, I am most thankful for: that’s right… Google.
Warm wishes for a loving, family-friendly Thanksgiving celebration to all.
Bruce “The Blog” Apar promotes local businesses, organizations, events, and people through public relations agency APAR/PR. He also is an actor, a community volunteer, and a contributor to several periodicals. Follow him as Bruce The Blog on social media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-275-6887.