As I drove down Lamar Boulevard this week, I noticed wreaths hanging from lampposts with festive lights of the Square twinkling in the distance. I thought to myself with excitement, “Christmas is here. Finally.” For many, the time to celebrate Christmas is here, blossoming in our city’s center and soon to spread throughout.
We love the lights, the season and the joy, but what about Thanksgiving?
It’s pretty common to hear debates about when to start decorating for Christmas: do you put up decorations immediately after Halloween, or is it better to wait until after the fourth Thursday in November, out of respect for the beloved familial holiday? It appears as though Oxford places its vote for the former.
The early decorations made me wonder why Oxford skipped over Thanksgiving. My initial thought was that most people do not want to be associated with the tainted history of Thanksgiving, seen through the embellished narrative of a neighborly feast that hides the mistreatment of Native Americans by pilgrims. However, further consideration yielded doubt that hoisting lights early public denounces the nostalgia of Thanksgiving. In fact, I doubt that the timing is intentional.
The reason that Oxford and so many others begin celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving is a simple matter of economics. Christmas sells. Thanksgiving does not. Songs that dominate radio stations for two months, ornamented trees, ugly sweaters and countless other representations of winter are all linked to Christmas.s
Thanksgiving has no such things, or at least not on a level close to that of Christmas. Sure, you can visit Marshalls and find an embroidered pillow with a smiling turkey (cruel, I know), but take a step back and see the lone pillow surrounded by a sea of snowmen and candy canes. Its website, along with all other stores like it, is already lined with festive symbols.
This is primarily because of an elemental consumerism which Christmas tends to project over any other holiday. What began as a religious holiday has now shifted its focus towards a more supply-and-demand mindset.
The New York Post conducted a survey in which it asked people and businesses, “When is it okay to put up (Christmas) décor?” The answer from the respondents, interestingly, favored waiting until after they gathered around the Thanksgiving table, with 57% of respondents voting to wait. However, 60% of businesses voted for putting up decorations before Halloween. It’s a clear-cut example of how Christmas has become held under the controlling grip of consumerism.
What does this mean for Thanksgiving, though?
I guess that answer is up to you. Sure, Oxford can put up decorations on Nov. 1, and so can your neighbor. In the end, the choice to supersede the tradition, or even celebrating it, is yours. Yes, Thanksgiving food is sentimental, and the practice of giving thanks is indispensable within the realm of living selflessly.
It’s a shame that Christmas’s profitable status often causes Thanksgiving to be overshadowed and rushed. However, the two holidays are separate and should be treated as such. Each have a lot from which we can gain, so let’s celebrate and enjoy the seasons.
Stroud Tolleson is a sophomore public policy leadership major from Madison, Mississippi.