Sunday, November 28, 2004

Christmas at Thanksgiving?

This was Thankgiving weekend, yet the television screen was filled with Christmas movies. NBC aired It's a Wonderful Life the first time this year Saturday and tonight they aired a musical version of A Christmas Carol. On Thanksgiving day itself, TNT showed A Christmas Story. That night ABC showed How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Hallmark Channel showed nothing but Yuletide films this weekend.

Now don't get me wrong. I love Yuletide movies. Both It's a Wondeful Life and the original Miracle on 34th Street are among my favourite movies. And I have always loved both A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim as old Ebeneezer and the musical Scrooge. But it seems to me that Thanksgiving weekend is a bit too early for such movies. What is worse is that it seems to me that the various TV outlets show all these holiday movies at Thanksgiving and, then, when the Yuletide itself is upong us, they stop showing them. Oh, one can still expect NBC to show It's a Wonderful Life and TNT to show A Christmas Story. And, of course, TCM will show Christmas movies up through December 25. But those many other TV outlets will simply stop showing Yuletide movies entirely. It seems to me that they are showing the movies at the wrong time.

What is worse to me is that in showing Yuletide movies on the weekend of Thanksgiving, it effectively denies Thanksgiving a character of its own. It seems to me that Thanksgiving is becoming more and more simply an extension of the Yuletide. If it contnues, I rather suspect people will forget about the autumn imagery previously associated with the holiday (corn stalks, pumpkins, fallen leaves) and opt for Yule decorations instead. Further, I have to wonder that Thanksgiving will become less about giving thanks. than it will preparing for Christmas (especially buying presents).

I suppose a lot of this is due to retailers. Sometime in the late 19th century, America's retailers (particularly the big department stores) decided that the day after Thanksgiving marked the beginning of the Chritsmas shopping season. Indeed, the Macy's Thankgiving Day Parade was originally named the Macy's Christmas Parade. And, with the exception of the year that he led the parade, the end of the parade has always marked the arrival of Santa Claus. It seems to me that in modern American society the Chritsmas shopping season has become conflated with the Christmas season itself. Is it any wonder that Americans don't celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas (the evening of December 24 to the night of January 6) any more?

Anyhow, I suppose that there is little I can do about it, but I wish the various TV outlets would hold off on the Yuletide cheer until at least December 1. Let Thanksgiving be celebrated as Thanksgiving and not as an extension of Christmas. And let the Yuletide remain merry and bright by keeping it in its proper time.

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