Dear Thanksgiving,

No matter how many twinkle lights go up around town or how many holiday songs I hear on the radio, I haven’t forgotten you. November is yours. I have a turkey decoration on the center of my kitchen table, and that bird will stay in its place of prominence until the sun sets on Nov. 28. I promise.

For years now, you’ve been getting the short end of the wishbone, thanks to a phenomenon they call Christmas Creep. Don’t worry. Christmas Creep is not some weirdo in a Santa suit. It’s a strategy used by retailers to move the holiday shopping period earlier in the year. They want a longer runway leading up to Black Friday, when holiday sales officially take off.

Speaking of Black Friday, there are a few stores which turn Black Friday into Thankless Thursday. They’ve moved in on what may be the only 24 hours you have all year.

They say opening stores on Thanksgiving Day is a response to eager shoppers who’d rather gobble up sales than spend a leisurely evening with family, snacking on leftover slivers of pumpkin pie. But I’m not sure I believe it. It feels like just one more way Thanksgiving is getting stuffed into Santa’s armpit.

Part of the problem is, as holidays go, the only trimmings you’ve got are the cranberry sauce and giblet gravy. Let’s face it, Thanksgiving. You have no presents to open. No exploding fireworks, no colored eggs, no Halloween candy, no love notes with red roses. You don’t have the razzle dazzle other holidays have, but maybe there’s a good reason for it.

In my experience, it’s the quiet moments in life teaching me the most. It’s hard to hear the still, small voice when there’s a New Year’s Eve party in progress. It’s tough to notice the sweet, small moments of the day when there are huge explosions in the night sky.

Thanksgiving gives us some much-needed time to be with people who matter most. Time to gather around a beautiful meal and recognize how blessed we are to have food to sustain us, a home to shelter us and people who love us.

Those three simple but crucial elements give us the opportunity to celebrate not only this holiday but all the others. And it’s no accident Thanksgiving comes before the most popular holiday of the year. The timing of Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful, not only for the everyday blessings of life, but also for the gift of a Savior whose birth created Christmas in the first place. If we can’t take time to be thankful for that, do we deserve the parties, gifts and excitement of Christmas?

When I see red and green splashed around town too early, I say, “But what about Thanksgiving?” Now my kids have learned to spot the injustice of it, too. I don’t want them to think nothing worthwhile happens between Oct. 31 and Dec. 25. Because even though Thanksgiving’s specific date on the calendar may move around, the fourth Thursday of November will always be an important day.

In this loud, hectic world, we need you, Thanksgiving — now more than ever. You’re not just an excuse to eat too much. You’re not just an opening act for a headliner holiday. You give us time to honor all the things we so easily take for granted. This window of time is reserved for Thanksgiving and the opportunity to say a heartfelt “thank you.”

Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. This column was originally published in 2013. Email her at rockwoodfiles@cox.net.

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