Thanksgiving in America began with noble sentiments and is surrounded by traditions, rituals, and stories of hardship, sharing, and giving thanks for survival in a new land. A friend of mine, widely known for her cooking skills, often bemoaned the fact that her children, even as adults, wouldn’t let her vary the turkey and trimmings menu. I’m amused when grocery stores helpfully group all the ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal in the center aisles for convenience and as a help to those who cook only occasionally and have no idea what they need. We might think that the commercialization of Christmas is a twenty-first century phenomenon, but the classic 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street reminds us that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade has long been the kick-off to the retail Christmas season. In just the last decade, we’ve seen the creep from crack-of-dawn Black Friday shopping sprees to late-night Thanksgiving deals, to all-day Internet shopping on Thursday. Each year there’s a growing movement to discourage stores from being open on Thanksgiving Day on the premise that it’s not fair to the people who have to be away from their families due to work schedules. And it’s OK to have one or two days a year with no shopping. But we need to remember that gratitude is at the center of this day of giving thanks. It’s not a bad way to begin the hubbub of the Christmas season.
— from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek