Our son called to complain yesterday.
You know what makes me grumpy, he said. Christmas music before Thanksgiving.
He’d been working at a Macy’s in Houston and yes. They’re playing Christmas music in Texas.
It’s not even good Christmas music, our son said. It’s Mariah Carey singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”
Ugh, I said.
He went on. The thing of it is this — Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that all Americans can celebrate together regardless of race, religion or gender.
He’s absolutely right. We should be thinking about Thanksgiving, not Christmas, as we approach next week’s holiday — which is why I am offering the following suggestions for catching (and keeping!) the Thanksgiving Spirit even though Mariah Carey is already singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in Texas.
Turn on the Hallmark Channel and watch Thanksgiving movies 24/7 • You know the formula. Our main character returns for Thanksgiving to the little town where she grew up. She doesn’t want to leave her glamorous job in the big city but duty calls. The family business back home is failing. Also, it’s time for her adorable, precocious child — our main character is a single parent — to meet her grandparents, as well as the simple people in the town where she (our main character) grew up. Romantic entanglements ensue.
There are variations on this theme, of course. Sometimes our main character is a princess of a minor European nation no one has ever heard of before. She resents her stifling life as a royal, so she goes slumming with the simple people in the town where she didn’t grow up. Romantic entanglements ensue.
Turn on the radio and listen to Thanksgiving music 24/7 • In my experience, nothing puts you in the mood for the Thanksgiving season faster than listening to Thanksgiving music sung by pop stars.
Send out Thanksgiving cards with your family’s picture on them • I know. Getting everyone together — especially if you’re all wearing matching outfits — is hard. Sometimes you even have to photoshop in missing family members. But the results are totally worth it. A WORD OF WARNING: If you do have to photoshop somebody in, just make sure his head is the same size as everybody’s head in the picture.
Read a classic Thanksgiving picture book every night • Favorites include “The Night Before Thanksgiving” and “The Thanksgiving Express.”
Make Thanksgiving gifts for the neighbors • Sing Thanksgiving carols such as “All I Want for Thanksgiving Is You” when you deliver them.
Put out your family’s Thanksgiving Elf on the Shelf and trick small children into believing he’s monitoring their behavior • You know. Like the NSA.
Break out your ugly Thanksgiving sweater • Actually, you didn’t think it was ugly when you bought it in the early ’90s. You thought that as far as holiday sweaters go, it was tasteful. Now, of course, you win first prize every year in your office’s Ugly Thanksgiving Sweater Contest.
Start buying Thanksgiving presents for everyone on your list • If you buy underwear for your second-grader, don’t be surprised if he puts it on his head and chases his brothers around the house. Nothing makes a second-grader laugh like wearing underwear on his head.
Drop hints about what you want for Thanksgiving • FYI, underwear isn’t on the list.
Oh. Wait. WAIT! Like everybody else in America, I’ve conflated the holidays again!
My son is right — Christmas really is taking over Thanksgiving.
So what can you do instead?
Push the pause button and reflect. Then carve out enough time in your busy schedule to, you know — just let Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving.