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Giving Thanks For Thanksgiving
by Mad Dog
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Mad Dog column has been published by Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, NY Daily News, S.F. Chronicle, Boston Phoenix and other fine newspapers.

Like it or not, the Holiday Season is in full swing. The Holiday Season, for those of you who have been too busy pondering the irony of Paris Hilton taking up the cause of drunken elephants in India to pay attention, is defined as the group of year-end celebrations that includes Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah that officially starts right after July 4th when the drug stores pull the barbecue grills, lawn chairs, and mosquito repellent off the shelves and put out the Christmas tree ornaments, candy canes, and CDs of Slim Whitman’s Kwanzaa Favorites Volume 17. Hey, you can’t say they don’t give you plenty of shopping days until Christmas.

The Holiday Season is big business. Consider that this year we spent an estimated $5 billion on Halloween products. To put this in perspective, that’s almost twice what Adam Sandler will get paid to act like a whiney adult brat in his next movie but less than half what Heather Mills will take home from her divorce settlement with Paul. Two billion of those dollars went to buying candy, which means an awful lot was left to pay for costumes, decorations, pumpkins, beer, Pepto Bismol, and ant exterminating after the little critters discovered where you hid the candy. Next year maybe you’ll wise up and eat all the Take 5’s immediately.

This consumer binge has made Halloween number two in holiday spending, ahead of Easter but behind Christmas. Obviously the egg and rabbit industries just aren’t putting enough effort into their marketing, so don’t be surprised if when March rolls around you see magazine ads with the Easter Bunny wearing a yolk moustache asking, “Got eggs?”.

It doesn’t take much to create a holiday anymore. Take Cinco de Mayo. A small Mexican commemoration of the 1862 defeat of French troops at the Battle of Puebla, it only took a little creativity on the part of the Mexican beer companies to turn it into a full-blown American fiesta. Cities all over the country throw block parties and street festivals celebrating Cinco de Mayo, mostly in towns where the nearest Mexican is a Chihuahua on the poster at Taco Bell and the people who walk around with a lime stuck in their Budweiser listening to American rock bands wouldn’t know a burro from a burrito if they ate one of each. Don’t be surprised if Congress moves this celebration to the first Friday in May so we can have yet another three-day weekend. And celebrate Cinco de Mayo on, say, Siete de Mayo.

Luckily there are still a few pure holidays left. Columbus Day is pretty clean, even though in some places, like San Francisco, it’s not even called Columbus Day anymore, but Italian Heritage Day. You know it’s pure because no one spends money on Columbus Day. Okay, maybe a cannoli here and a sausage sandwich there, but that only comes to a total of $2,598.45 nationwide. Plus tax.

Then there’s Thanksgiving. Incredibly, Thanksgiving has remained pretty uncommercialized. Sure there are those goofy turkey decorations with the honeycomb crepe paper bodies and the sappy TV specials that reap almost as much ad revenue as the Super Bowl because advertisers want you to think they’re kicking off their Christmas advertising campaign at Thanksgiving when you know for a fact they were airing the same commercials during Labor Day weekend. But you don’t even see a holiday basic —greeting cards. Maybe Hallmark and American Greetings are being selfless and trying to maintain a modicum of decorum. Okay, let’s get serious. The truth is they haven’t been able to come up with any funny ideas that don’t play on the phrases “Don’t be a turkey” and “Get stuffed.”

Thanksgiving is relatively intact, still being celebrated by eating until a plunger won’t get more food down, snoring in front of the TV while telling yourself that breathing is aerobic exercise, doing our best to pretend we like everyone in the family for at least the first half hour, and trying not to think about what mincemeat is while we shovel it down because, well, it’s Thanksgiving and you’re required by law to eat everything that’s set out on the table, including the pine cone turkey centerpiece.

Oh yeah, we also take time to give thanks. Thanks that we’re people and not turkeys. Thanks that we remembered to wear a large shirt so we could pull the shirt tail out to hide the fact that we unbuttoned our pants after that turkey sandwich we ate an hour after dinner. Thanks that there’s a presidential election coming up next year even if it does mean 347 more days of trying to ignore the campaign. Thanks that there are only seven days in the week so they can’t possibly fill more nights with CSI and Law and Order. And thanks that we’re smart enough not to wake up at 6:00 am the day after Thanksgiving to hit the malls with everyone else. Just don’t tell anyone that it’s because you’ll be busy planning next year’s Cinco de Mayo party.

# # # # #

©2007 Barry H. Gottlieb All Rights Reserved.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: His compilation of humorous travel columns, “If It’s Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?” is available from Xlibris Corporation.

Published: Sep 5,2008 20:11
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