It’s time for HallowThanksMas

By Donald Brazile

Does it seem to you that Halloween jumps right into Thanksgiving, and then Christmas comes creeping up on their heels? Does it feel as if all three get lumped into one extended holiday celebration? If you didn’t know already, there’s a name for this — “HallowThanksMas” — a combination of Halloween + Thanksgiving + Christmas. 

But if we were really honest, it might as well be “Hallowmas.” 

By this I mean, the middle child is often overlooked. We immediately go from Halloween costumes to Christmas presents. Thanksgiving is just a passing day when we eat until we collectively slip into food comas.

And we can see the effects of this — a lack of true gratitude in our culture.

For instance, a while back on an episode of “The Simpsons,” Bart was asked to offer thanks at the Thanksgiving meal and he said, “Dear God, we bought all of this stuff with our own money, so thanks for nothing. Amen.” This pretty much summarizes the reigning sentiment of our day. Often the more we have, the more likely we are to say “thanks for nothing.”

You see, no one is born grateful.

Gratitude isn’t built into our culture, despite the federally declared holiday, and it does not come naturally to us. Therefore, thankfulness is a virtue that must be taught, fostered and nurtured. Just like anything else, it must be practiced. It takes longer to learn for some than others. Some never learn. And others don’t learn until later in life. 

Years ago, Charles Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts,” wrote a story about Charlie Brown preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for his friends. Being a child, Charlie Brown didn’t know how to prepare the traditional menu, so he makes toast, popcorn, and jellybeans and serves them to his friends. At the table, Peppermint Patty, who had invited herself over, isn’t impressed. She says, “Where’s the dressing? Where’s the cranberry sauce and the turkey? Where’s the pumpkin pie?”

Throughout Schulz’s narrative is a reminder of the true essence of Thanksgiving Day: to be grateful even when your plate only has toast and jellybeans.

Some days we’re like Charlie Brown, trying to do the right thing despite the odds. Other days, we’re more like Peppermint Patty, forgetting to be grateful when so much has been given to us.

I read about an elderly pastor who was famous for his pulpit prayers. He always found something to thank God for, even in bad times. One stormy Sunday morning, when everything was going extremely bad in the community and in the lives of many people in the congregation, the pastor stepped to the pulpit to pray. Members of the congregation thought the preacher would have nothing to thank God for on that wretched morning. The pastor began his prayer: “We thank thee, O God, that it isn’t always like this.” 

This Thanksgiving season, is it hard for you to be truly thankful?

If so, be thankful that “it isn’t always like this.”

On Sunday, Nov. 7, we get to set our clocks back one hour, and the night before Thanksgiving, we get to set our scales back 10 pounds. During these two magnificent bookends, resolve to say “thank you” to God as quickly and strongly as you say “will you?” And maybe, you’ll embrace the spirit of Thanksgiving this year.