The Eve of Thanksgiving, or Franksgiving

At this moment, I should be up to my elbows in pie crust, bread dough, and cake batter.  Instead, I’ve decided it’s much more important to update you, my dear readers, on the latest from suburbia as Thanksgiving approaches.

At my house, the guest bed is waiting to be made up in anticipation of visitors.  A 15 lb. turkey is thawing nicely; I hope it’s big enough.  My menu for tomorrow is traditional and simple.  Family gatherings are stressful enough without wondering if a new recipe will go over well.  As much as I would like to decorate and set a gorgeous table, I’ll settle for just the good china on the table and clean bathrooms and a tidy family room.

In my neighborhood, folks are getting an early start on their Christmas decorations.  Last night, as I returned home from a Thanksgiving prayer service, I counted 4 homes with Christmas lights blazing on just the few streets that make up my usual route.  Nothing new there.  In fact, I wrote a post about it last year.

So what’s the deal with “Franksgiving?”  I discovered a fascinating piece of history about American  Thanksgiving that I’m sure I was never taught in school.  According to Wikipedia:

Abraham Lincoln’s successors as president followed his example of annually declaring the final Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving. But in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt broke with this tradition.  November had five Thursdays that year (instead of the usual four), and Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving rather than the fifth one. Although many popular histories state otherwise, he made clear that his plan was to establish the holiday on the next-to-last Thursday in the month instead of the last one. With the country still in the midst of The Great Depression, Roosevelt thought an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas. Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would help bring the country out of the Depression. At the time, advertising goods for Christmas before Thanksgiving was considered inappropriate. Fred Lazarus, Jr., founder of the Federated Department Stores (later Macy’s), is credited with convincing Roosevelt to push Thanksgiving back a week to expand the shopping season.

Republicans decried the change, calling it an affront to the memory of Lincoln. People began referring to Nov. 30 as the “Republican Thanksgiving” and Nov. 23 as the “Democratic Thanksgiving” or “Franksgiving”.

Huh.  Who knew that retail craziness extended all the way back to The Great Depression?   After all these years, then, retailers still push the limits to get even more shoppers in the door on Black Friday.  I can’t get too excited about various stores deciding to open their doors at midnight instead of 4 or 6 a.m.  I kinda feel bad for the store employees, but they’ve got to realize by now that working in retail brings crappy hours.  Get over it.  Military members, first responders, medical professionals all get stuck working on holidays, too.  I don’t feel at all sorry for the people who want to be first in line at the doors of Wal-Mart.  Yeah, they probably have to eat their turkey dinner at 8 a.m. or even the day before Thanksgiving to win a place at the front of the line.  If saving a hundred bucks on a flat screen TV means more to them than enjoying the holiday, that’s their problem with priorities, not mine.

I’m not a die-hard Black Friday shopper.  I have lined up outside of Target in the past.  It wasn’t pleasant.  People were either jovial and giddy or downright nasty jerks.  It rained and was cold.  I had my sister with me to make the best of it, though, and we did manage to snag the items we had our eyes on.  I haven’t made up my mind about this Black Friday yet.  I think the forecast is for rain, so I might have an easy decision.  You most certainly will NOT find me in the line snaking around Wal-Mart.

Now the mixer and flour bin beckon.  I leave you with the words of George Washington:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits…[may we] then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country…, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence,…for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness,…for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

May we be truly thankful.

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Filed under holidays, life in America

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