Forgetting Thanksgiving:The Nightmare Before Christmas

give thanks preview

I went to the mall on November 14th this year. It made me sad. And then—then it made me mad.

Christmas is here, apparently. Santa’s got his chair all ready to go. Ornaments hang cheerfully from the mall ceiling. Christmas songs are playing.

As I looked around, I wondered:  What happened to Thanksgiving? Where are the decorations for Thanksgiving? Where are the pictures of Pilgrims and Indians?  I miss Thanksgiving with the Walton family. Forgetaboutit. It’s time to buy more stuff. Everyone’s talking about Christmas. The sales. The glitz. The sparkle.

Thanksgiving doesn’t sparkle. It has a softer glow about it. Thanksgiving offers a quiet peace. Thanksgiving offers time to reflect and to be thankful–and heaven knows we need more of that these days. I wonder if we’re forgetting Thanksgiving.

Here in my neck of the woods, we roll Santa out right after the mummies go back into storage.

Is it happening where you live, too? Every year,  Christmas decorations go up earlier. Every year, we hear less about this cherished tradition of giving thanks. Bring on the gift giving. Americans like to GET things—and in the process, we’ve allowed ourselves to forGET that it’s better to give than to receive.

I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to know the history behind Thanksgiving. I want them to know about Squanto and the Mayflower. I hope they realize what those Pilgrims came here for. They came for freedom.

I want them know that it Thanksgiving would have disappeared altogether if Sarah Hale had not petitioned no less than five US Presidents to make it a national holiday.

In Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson, we see a glimpse of Sarah Hale’s spirit. She wrote persistently to officials in many levels of government promoting the observance of Thanksgiving as a unified national holiday. Not a woman to take “No” for an answer, Sarah kept on writing.  For four decades and five Presidencies, Sarah wrote. She believed that observing Thanksgiving was a way that we, as a nation, could be unified. In October, 1863, President Lincoln, perhaps in response to an editorial Hale had published in the magazine she edited, read a Thanksgiving proclamation to “fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Read her amazing letter here.

Thanksgiving thankyou_sarah

We’re missing it if we miss this special time.

But then, we’re missing a lot of things in the United States these days.

Forgetting Thanksgiving, or even side-lining it, is a big mistake.

But then, we’re making a lot of mistakes in the United States right now.

We’ve got to get this right.

I want my children to look forward to gathering around the table at Thanksgiving. I want them to remember seeing their grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and neighbors bowing their heads in reverence and gratitude to God. I want them to learn that being thankful for what we have is better than getting things.


When I’m gone, I hope my grandchildren remember that their Mamsi loved to cook a turkey just right for whoever would come and enjoy it with us. I hope they still watch “Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving.” I hope they will tell the story of Thanksgiving to their children. I hope they’ll read Sarah’s story to their own children.

To me, Thanksgiving is sacred. There was something almost magical about driving through town to grandma’s house as a child and noticing that was closed to honor this special day. We took a break. We played games. We ate food. We listened to the stories of our grandparents—and we learned to give thanks.

We’ve got a nightmare before Christmas in this country when we forget Thanksgiving in a rush to buy more things and hurry past it to the “most wonderful time of the year.”

To forget is to miss out on the blessing.

Let’s remember. Let’s stop shopping for one day and give thanks to God for all we have.

Yes, it’s just one day, but it’s no ordinary day.

Take time. Slow down. Look up. Look around. Be thankful.


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About Heidi St. John

Heidi St. John has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children from toddler to adult and have homeschooled all the way through high school. A favorite conference and radio speaker, Heidi approaches marriage and parenting with humor and grace. Her passion to encourage moms and set them free to be who God has created them to be will bless and encourage you.

10 thoughts on “Forgetting Thanksgiving:The Nightmare Before Christmas

  1. Be sure to watch Kurt Cameron’s epic movie called “Monumental” to get the true story of the pilgrims and America’s beginning. You won’t be disappointed! It’s a new Thanksgiving tradtion worth starting.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your heart on Thanksgiving. It is my heart also. I was wondering the same thing here in my town, how Christmas has arrived but very little about Thanksgiving. The old traditional thanksgiving day is no longer it seems. Which saddens my heart greatly, so seeing this today blest my heart and lifted me to the point I am going to make it a super duper awesome Thanksgiving for my family and friends. thanks so much Heidi, have a blest and awesome Thanksgiving. the Lord bless you and yours. In His Love, Gloria

  3. I am so with you here. I feel businesses rush each holiday. It looks like one big blur have the time. I was talking to a friend about when I was little remember my mom putting up Thanksgiving decorations in the window of Pilgrims, turkeys and Indians. We used to talk about them in school and have a mock First Thanksgiving. Oh how those days are missed. thanks for this reminder of slowing down.

  4. Thank you for posting this! It is so true and we all need to be standing up for Thanksgiving more. My family stay home and share a wonderful dinner and make wonderful memories on this day. We share what we are thankful for this year and yes we watch “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” I spend the week before and the week of doing Thanksgiving lessons for the kids. It is so important that we give Thanksgiving its time. It represents not only what we are thankful for each and every day but also the freedom that the pilgrims came here for. Bless you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  5. Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving. I try to remember the proclamation Lincoln made as it is profound, especially since it was made during the dreadful Civil War. What is striking to me is that it was called a day of Thanksgiving and Praise. We have lost the second part — and its purpose. It was also day for repentance, as he indicated in his statement. Thank you for including this topic in your blog. It bears repeating every year.
    Best wishes,

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