By Kyeland Jackson —
Christmas has long held the top spot on holiday rankings, displacing Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July and even St. Patrick’s Day . But Thanksgiving has lived in the shadow of Christmas for too long, an under-appreciated champion among holidays. It’s about time someone cleared the air: Thanksgiving is the best holiday.
Christmas was fast-tracked way to the top of American holidays since it was recognized as a federal holiday in 1870. Since, the celebrated birth of Jesus Christ has become a global staple in culture and economic rhythms. A 2015 Pew study found nine in 10 Americans, and 96 percent of Christians, celebrate Christmas. Another study found 86 percent of Americans buy gifts for friends or family. Most workplaces and schools close for the day. But for what?
The commercialized bombardment isn’t deserving of the title “best holiday.” People brave the rampant hordes on Black Friday just for a five-minute gift exchange between family, friends and coworkers. Days later, they’re exchanging gift receipts to an exhausted Best Buy worker who just stopped five grown couples from fighting over a TV.
A 2013 Pew study found while a majority felt “joyful and generous” about buying gifts, many felt financially stretched thin, stressed out and wasteful. That’s where Thanksgiving arrives to save the multitudes from oppression of the shallow Christmas holiday.
Thanksgiving’s message remains simple: “Eat and give thanks.” Deemed a federal holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, it celebrates the feast uniting settlers and Native Americans in colonial times. Since then the holiday has been a lightning rod, garnering reunion and appreciation. A 2012 Pew study found nine in 10 adults enjoy Thanksgiving meals with their families. More than six in 10 said there would be 10 or more relatives attending.
Thanksgiving supersedes others because of the ability to gather family members to eat and appreciate each others’ company. The simplistic message for Thanksgiving has been preserved over time, with everyone’s family, friends and politically incorrect acquaintances citing what they’re thankful for on social media.
It may not be as financially generative or appreciated as Christmas, but Thanksgiving is better. Its ability to gather family and establish concrete interpersonal connections truly gives you something to be thankful and appreciative for, not something to return to a battered Walmart days later.
Next time you’re gearing up in your riot gear for Black Friday or Christmas shopping, think: instead of getting elbowed by an old woman scrambling for her nephew’s Xbox, you could’ve been discussing the presidential election over turkey with your family.