Let's get this out of the way:
I decorate before Thanksgiving.
I don't shop Black Friday.
I don't cook turkey.
There. I said it.
What's the big deal about Thanksgiving anyway? Isn't it just a pre-Christmas? I think it's a little more than that for the ritual-deprived, average white American that might not understand their own need to honor the passing of the seasons. As a nature-based family, we've had our three harvest festivals in August, September, and October (yes, Halloween is a Harvest festival). As soon as the last bits of begged-for candy are donated, thrown out, or eaten, I'm ready to dig out the Solstice decorations because my sense of honoring the harvest and all that means for us as a family has been fulfilled. For those that haven't honored the wave of harvests, grain, fruit, and animal, Thanksgiving is their only chance to smash it all together and get it done.
Originally, there was no specific Thanksgiving. There was Harvest Home, a harvest celebration that happened in September with the Autumnal Equinox and/or the harvest being brought in. This was a harvest celebration that most folks enjoyed. You can read more about that here: http://www.plimoth.org/learn/MRL/read/thanksgiving-history What is most striking to me about our history of Thanksgiving in the US is that we didn't even have an official day until the 1940s! And yet, we have all the hoopla over waiting until Thanksgiving is done to start decorating and shopping for Yule and Christmas. It's my observation that Thanksgiving is a very late holiday for the harvest and that's why many folks are ready to move on even before it arrives. I prefer to let the harvest concept rule: we give thanks for the harvest (and all that symbolizes) when the majority of the harvests are happening (August, September, and October).
Do I celebrate Thanksgiving? Mostly. I don't celebrate the unpleasantness of our culture's treatment of the Native Americans, and you can read about how many (most?) Native Americans don't celebrate Thanksgiving either here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-w-zotigh/do-american-indians-celebrate-thanksgiving_b_2160786.html . But there is value in honoring a day that is honored by most of my loved ones. There is value in giving thanks when my family is also giving thanks, even though every day that my husband, children and I have together we give thanks. So I guess you could say we "go along."
We had a quiet Thanksgiving meal with just the four of us yesterday and this is where I admit that I don't cook turkey. It just seems like a whole lot of effort to me. I'd rather cook a roast, or chicken, because turkey just isn't my thing. And today I'm not out shopping for Black Friday. I'd rather be with my family, even if I'm not wrapped up in the potential importance of Thanksgiving as a holiday. But even if it wasn't about family, I don't think I'd brave the cold and the early morning hours. I don't care to dive into the chaos and madness, hundreds, thousands of people going where I want to go, shopping where I want to shop. No thanks. And I would much rather support local shops, smaller businesses, and create handmade goods for my holiday wares.
There was no late night scramble to get the decorations up after our meal yesterday because they were already up. There was no worry over whether we had stuffing and cranberries because we did all that back in September. And if it were up to me, I'd say lets put the Harvest Home back in Thanksgiving!
Blessings to you all!