The Broad is Back!

November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving experiences

Filed under: American culture,holidays,New Broads,traditions — by maggiec @ 9:38 pm

It’s been 13 years since my son and I celebrated Thanksgiving.  I’ve written in the past about being away on the holiday, more than once in fact, but I think the strangest experience of all was being back.

The last Thanksgiving I spent in America was celebrated at my mother’s house, as we had all the Thanksgivings I’d celebrated before that.  When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was a “fancy” holiday–Mom pulled out the good china, silver and crystal.  We had the white tablecloth, the candles; we dressed for dinner.  This was the formality of my youth.  At that last celebration, there were two grandchildren, the three children, one fiancee and Mom.

This year we had Thanksgiving at my brother and sister-in-law’s (the former fiancee), who have been the holiday hosts since I’ve been gone.  Mom was down at her place in Tennessee, the eldest grandchild was up at college and there were three new grandchildren.  The dinner was delicious and traditional, the table lovely if more casual than my mother’s taste, but it didn’t feel like a holiday to me and definitely not to my son.  This is no reflection on my brother and sister-in-law.  It’s a reflection on my son and me.

My son was three at the last Thanksgiving he celebrated.  He is clueless about the whole thing, but visiting family is always a good thing.  For me, I wondered, what happened to me?  Why don’t I care about the holiday?  Maybe because it seems so different?  Driving down to my brother’s we made some pit stops, and no one was dressed up.  I was in a work outfit, but my son was in jeans and a tee shirt.  The majority of people traveling were in jeans, sweats, even pajamas!  In my mind, holidays should mean uncomfortable clothes–pantyhose at the very least!  Kind of twisted, I know, but I still associate holidays with scratchy, tight, fussy and unpleasant clothing.

Was that it?

I wasn’t with my mom, so this is the first Thanksgiving that I’ve celebrated without Mom.  I didn’t celebrate abroad.  But no, that’s not it.

It’s not that I don’t care about the entire concept.  I do care, very much.

So I’m forcing myself to think about this, and I think the problem is the same problem I’ve seen since I’ve been back.  Commercialization.  Buy, buy, buy.  Eat a big meal, but then the focus shifts to Friday–Black Friday, the official start of the Christmas shopping season.  It was like this before I left, of course, but it seems worse now.  It just could be that I notice it more after being gone so long, but most people I talk to feel that things are getting more and more commercial every year.

Our Puritan forefathers and mothers would be horrified.  Lincoln, who called for a national day of Thanksgiving during the Civil War, would be stupified.  Even FDR, who set the fourth Thursday of November as our national day of Thanksgiving in 1939, would look askance at what has happened to our spirit of thankfulness.

Of course I’m grateful for all of my blessings, and I was happy to be with family, but the specialness was gone.

Black Friday is also called “Buy Nothing Day” to counter the rise in materialism and commercialism, but this year I didn’t hear a peep from the organizers.  It’s an international movement, not just in the US, but still, didn’t see anything about it till I googled it just now.

WOW!  Off the track, but you know one of the reasons why I didn’t hear anything.  Found this on “MTV, the channel that markets itself to hip youth, has decreed that our Buy Nothing Day public service spot ‘goes further than we are willing to accept on our channels’. Gangsta rap and sexualized, semi-naked school girls are okay, but apparently not a burping pig talking about consumption?”

Well, that was shocking.  I watched the ad and it was a big nothing in terms of shock value.  But I can see MTV’s point.  If you’re advertising demographic is youth, with it’s large disposable income spent on largely unnecessary objects, you don’t want to be annoying the big account advertisers, do you?

So, there it is, the first Thanksgiving back in the States.  Hard emotions to articulate, but very agitating on some levels.


1 Comment »

  1. I can certainly relate to being without my Mom on Thanksgiving. It feels strange…especially because my Mom died on Thanksgiving. I wrote a poem about it – if you’d like to read it, go to

    Linda Athis

    Comment by Linda Athis — November 2, 2008 @ 6:11 pm |Reply

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