Did you happen to notice following Halloween and just before Black Friday, there was Thanksgiving?
It’s a holiday that suffers from the neighborhood it resides in.
Halloween, with all of it’s bright colors and a little candy thrown in, is a tough act to follow.
Let’s face it.
The stars of the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrms and the Indians are usually portrayed in somewhat drab colors.
Doesn’t play well on those 10 foot square television screens we all have.
The recent attention to Thanksgiving in the press had to do with the “racial” aspect of the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special.
Someone thought since Franklin, the little black kid was sitting along at the dinner table, that was racist.
After all these years, I never realized Charles M. Schultz was a man of evil intent.
You know, Charlie Brown’s shirt has that design that sorta looks Germanic.
But I digress with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.
Back to my original objective.
Thanksgiving tends to get overlooked by many because outside of a big Tom turkey, it doesn’t really have a great public image.
Even though Ben Franklin thought the turkey should be our national bird, the creature doesn’t inspire or awe us like the American eagle does.
Maybe that’s because we’ve never seen a plucked eagle with a red temperature sensor stuck in it to pop when he’s done cooking.
Plus, the media starts hyping “Black Friday” sales as soon as the Halloween pumpkins start to wrinkle and brown.
Even the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade gives the day the snub because the arrival of Santa, signaling the start of the Christmas season, is the highlight of the event, not the helium-filled gobbler.
Many times, folks say “Happy Thanksgiving” with all the warmth and sincerity of a beer vendor at any one of the 3 Thanksgiving Day pro football games on tap.
I honestly think most of America doesn’t know Detroit has an NFL franchise until the 4th Thursday of November each year.
That may be part of the problem with respect for Thanksgiving.
It’s on a Thursday.
Sure, it’s a holiday but in the matter of a week, it’s out there on an island.
It can’t even be part of a three day weekend.
It might be the Rodney Dangerfield of holidays.
In my one man campaign to keep Thanksgiving noteworthy, I scowl mightily upon family members who wish to take advantage of mild fall days prior to that Thursday to start decorating for Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong.
I love the Christmas season.
But handling the Christmas items before the turkey has been consumed seems almost criminal.
I’d rather have cold fingers and a runny nose while hanging my outdoor Christmas decorations on the cold weekend after Thanksgiving than do it in the 60’s the weekend before.
All Thanksgiving is really asking for is a single day.
A day to give thanks.
Seems like a reasonable request.
But I must confess.
There was a time, Thanksgiving wasn’t all that important to me.
It was just another day to eat a lot of food and for some of us to sit around a card table for a meal.
It all changed in 1972.
My wife Neav was staying with her parents and she was pregnant with our oldest daughter Nikki.
I was with the US Air Force in Sondrestromfiord, Greenland.
“Sondy” as we called it was a small airbase with the mission to supply the radar sites on the island ice cap.
They were there to watch for Russian missles being fired at us.
It was called the DEW line, the acronym for Defense Early Warning system.
This was obviously in pre-satetlite times.
The base just north of the Arctic Circle only had about 200 GI’s but at the time, Greenland was a Danish possession.
Lots of Danes did contract work on the base and our mess hall was staffed by Danish cooks.
And they could whip up a meal!
Thanksgiving Day, I went to the chow hall for the traditional dinner.
There were white table cloths and even candles plus invitations from the base comander, listing the menu and wishing us well.
It was the best-tasting Thanksgiving meal I ever had.
But it was also my least favorite.
Because that day, I realized that the food didn’t make the day Thanksgiving.
Family and friends did.
And while I had good military pals there with me, the folks who really made the day special were hundreds of miles away.
It wasn’t until Thanksgiving in 1972 that I truly realized it.
We have a tradition now where we all stand together and hold hands on Thanksgiving day for a brief prayer before the meal.
The size of that circle changes.
Sometimes new faces are added while some long-time fixtures are no longer there.
But for a short time on the 4th Thursday of November, we are together, as one.
More often than not, I get teary-eyed.
It’s a special feeling that I cherish to this day.
Now, pass the candied yams and dressing.