When was the last time you saw any giant plastic light up turkeys stuffed in between the pansies and grills in the garden center at Wal-mart?
Retailers aren’t going to utilize sacred floor space for pilgrim hats or inflatable feathered yard ornaments when, in half the space, they could sell three times the amount of Twilight T-shirts and dancing skeletons alongside prelit plastic pine trees. And we won’t open the Target ad to find the Special Two CD set, “From Our Table To Yours: Taylor Swift and Friends’ Favorite Turkey Songs”.
Thanksgiving has morphed from a revered American celebration to the ultimate Grocer’s holiday. It’s their time to create end cap and mid-aisle displays until an iota of cart maneuvering space remains. It’s the grocer’s turn to burn the fluorescent midnight oil, keep the stockboys overtime and watch customers scramble to buy products they won’t remember exist until Easter.
Like cranberry jelly. Who invented that stuff anyway? And whose idea was it to put it in a can in such a way that you have to open both ends and push it out? The stuff has the consistency of hair gel and now that I think about it, kinda smells like it too.
The smell of turkey roasting in the oven screams, “Today’s a holiday!” Imagine the confusion I could cause if my kids came home from school in the middle of September and smelled turkey. It’s practically against the law to cook turkey on days other than Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Although at Easter, there are the acceptable alternatives of ham and lamb. You can get away with a good beef roast at Christmas but you must also have turkey. The leftovers and smell are inherently essential. That is, until the day Glade invents the Roasted Turkey scented Plug-Ins. (Please don’t.)
Back in elementary school, it was with great solemnity when we learned about the Mayflower, Pilgrims, Indians, Plymouth Rock and corn on the cob. One year, the day before Thanksgiving, my dad came to my Kindergarten class and helped us make turkeys out of multi colored feathers, stryofoam and pipe cleaners. For my father to leave the University to teach Kindergartners elevated Thanksgiving, in more than a few six-year-old minds, to High Holy Day status. Our assumptions were confirmed Thursday, when moms everywhere got out the good dishes and matching silverware that only surfaced on holidays and when Aunt Ida came to town.
Through our young eyes, Thanksgiving was huge. It rounded out the ultimate holiday trifecta with Christmas and Easter leading the pack. It ranked up there with the 4th of July and Groundhog Day as being all-inclusive, nonreligious American holidays. Whether Jewish, Gentile, Protestant, Catholic, Republican, Democrat, immigrant or natural born citizen, Thanksgiving was for everyone.
I guess we don’t need giant inflatable lawn ornaments to celebrate something as great as that.