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Thanksgiving: America’s Spiritual Family Holiday

Turkey Dinner

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for so many reasons. For starters,the food alone can put a smile on my face and discomfort along the waste line. What really makes Thanksgiving so great is the uniqueness of the holiday. It is the one completely American secular holiday that takes a spiritual role for our country. This holiday unites us all on that collective unconscious level because of the rituals we all share no matter your race, state, religion, ethnicity, Republican, Democrat, rich, or poor. It’s also a family holiday, a holiday we share with people we love the most.

However, retail workers are being robbed of the holiday because they are being forced to work on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Traditions

The other holidays have traditions but it is the Thanksgiving rituals that make it so special. Thanksgiving is a ritual filled day with the parade in the morning, football in the afternoon, gut busting turkey dinner in the evening, and Tums and a food coma at night. It’s one holiday from Main Street to Wall Street; a divided melting pot becomes one people, even if for just one day. I feel that this is the true essence of the holiday that places it on the level of the collective unconscious. It is an amazing thing considering we are a nation of immigrants coming from all over the globe but, yet, once here, every immigrant embraces this holiday and the cultural community they are in embraces the holiday as their own.

Celebrating Family

The other aspect that makes this holiday so great is the fact that it is the one American holiday that celebrates the American family. We spend this holiday with our entire family like it’s Rosh Hashanah, Christmas, and any other major religious holiday in any religion on earth. We come far and wide to spend time with our families on this holiday making the Wednesday before Thanksgiving the busiest travel day of the year.

The psychological impacts of Thanksgiving are endless. The spirituality also invokes emotion in people bringing people closer. A ritual based holiday like this unites people, bringing families closer together and partners become more connected. It is also a day where nothing is open and everyone is forced to relax and focus on the family. We all know that human interaction, family support, and close loving families are key in mental health recovery and illness prevention. Thanksgiving is also a day to say thank you to all we hold dear and love. Remember, the good things in our lives remind us that things are ok as long as we have each other.

The Impact of Commerce

However, Thanksgiving is losing its soul to consumerism. In a quest to make as much money over the next few weeks, retail goes into overdrive. Thanksgiving is becoming more about shopping deals, consumerism, and Black Friday than about the family and the rituals. Even worse, a trend has begun that bothers me to my core, stores opening Thanksgiving Day. I know we live in a capitalistic, free society but some things should be sacred and respected even if it means less profits. This bothers me in two ways. First and most importantly, it takes the employees away from their families on a rare day set aside for family time. Lastly, it makes the holiday about shopping, with news reports about lines outside Best Buy 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. Since then, I see this holiday become more about the retail industries bottom line than the family.

So join with me, and keep the true essence of America’s spiritual holiday in tact for future generations. Let’s restore this day as the one day a year everything should be closed and the collective country joins together to celebrate what this holiday is all about, the concept of togetherness. Let’s not let this holiday become about great prices on TV’s; that’s what Black Friday is for. Tomorrow, remember what this holiday is and don’t go shopping even if the stores are handing out TV’s for free because the person handing out TV’s is being deprived of his or her family time.



David Fishman

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