Is Thanksgiving Too Close to Christmas?

fnk_spiked-jellied-cranberry-sauce_s4x3-jpg-rend-snigalleryslideLet’s travel back to 1999, when young Jamey was a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis.

Thanksgiving was in late November, as always. The next week was the last week of classes, followed by study week, then exams. By mid-December–just 3 weeks after Thanksgiving–it was time to head home.

I love my family, but going through all the effort to travel from St. Louis to Virginia and back twice within a 3-week span just didn’t make sense. So I decided to stay in St. Louis for Thanksgiving.

17 years later, and I’ve only traveled back to Virginia once for Thanksgiving. I’ve spent every other Thanksgiving with friends, girlfriends, and in Japan. I’ve made the same chocolate peanut butter pudding pie at nearly every one of those Thanksgivings.

So that’s what Thanksgiving is to me. If it’s different for my fellow Americans, I completely understand–you do you.

But it still seems odd to me that Thanksgiving is so close to another holiday that, while not celebrated religiously by everyone in the US, is at least celebrated nationally. Christmas is a national holiday, and many companies shut down for several days close to Christmas.

Both holidays result in tons of travel. Both holidays feature turkey dinner. Both holidays are steeped in tradition.

I’ve always thought that Thanksgiving and Christmas were too close to each other. But it wasn’t until I watched this clip from Late Night that the thought occurred to me that nothing is stopping us from changing the date of Thanksgiving.

Think about that. Is there any reason why Thanksgiving needs to be on the last Thursday of November? Why couldn’t it change to the first Thursday of November? It would still chilly outside in most areas. Football would still be on TV. Turkeys would still be in season. Cranberries would still taste weird.

And most importantly, it would give us a little time and space between major holidays.

Perhaps my modest proposal is missing a key ingredient. If so, I’d love to know what it is.


3 Responses to “Is Thanksgiving Too Close to Christmas?”

  1. Stephen says:

    The reason Canada went for 2nd Monday in October rather than where they used to have it, 6th November is, apparently, to avoid clashing with Armistice Day following WWII. 4th Thursday in November for the US was apparently the result of moving it earlier (from last Thursday, a subtle change that only sees a difference when there’s 5 Thursdays in the month, so 2 in every 7 years or so)

    I… Don’t think we have any similar national holidays in the UK. We have the same function (everything shuts down for the day) from Bank Holidays, but there’s no cultural significance to those, except for where they were attached to culturally significant (or formerly culturally signfiicant – May Day Bank Holiday, for example) dates, so that sort of national holiday always leaves me feeling slightly bemused looking across from this side of the pond.

  2. Gabby says:

    I think the missing ingredient in your Modest Proposal is children.

  3. Renate says:

    Is that cranberry sauce in slices? That seems as weird to me as sliced soup!
    I’m not American so I can’t comment on the placement of your national holidays, but it has always seemed weird to me that you seem to celebrate much the same thing twice in quick succession.

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