When I was a child, Christmas was by far my favorite holiday, for all kinds of reasons — the presents, the tree, almost every house in the neighborhood suddenly strung with lights. Now, seeing the holiday season from the other side of the parenting coin, Thanksgiving seems like Christmas stripped down to the latter’s most essential and enjoyable parts — good food, a quick prayer, and family too long unseen around a table — and missing the parts of our overly commercialized Christmas that I can easily do without: the challenge of finding the right gift, the crush of shoppers, strings of lights emerging from the closet in a Gordian knot, and one too many choruses of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
As Thanksgiving 2008 arrives, we have much to be grateful for. If you’re on the other side of the aisle, you’re thankful for Election Day victories — Al Franken, for one, is thrilled about the latest batch of “missing” votes found under some seat cushions. But if you’re disappointed by the election, the four-day weekend and its traditions are a soothing reminder that — despite a year being inundated with Orwellian images of a stylized face and empty slogan, and reiterated pledges that “we will change this country” — some parts of American life are gloriously impervious to change. The best parts of life are timeless, and beyond the reach even of the rapacious hand of the most ambitious politician.