As early as October, storefronts start showing signs of the holidays. A time supposedly meant for family, joy, togetherness, and gratitude has been heavily commercialized. Starting with Halloween, stores of all kinds attempt to profit from the seasonal spirit, with thematic twists on deals and merchandise. Even some traditional holiday pine wreaths have been colored orange for Halloween and decorated to fit in with the pre-Christmas sentiment. And immediately following Thanksgiving, holiday shopping begins in full force. Retailers publicize their Black Friday deals at least a week in advance, and this year some stores, like Kohl’s, started their sales even earlier on Thursday evening. Black Friday marks the socially accepted start of holiday shopping and the throngs of shoppers that flood malls. Furthermore, one can barely watch TV or flip through a magazine without a barrage of wintry-themed ads, encouraging viewers to help make their loved ones’ holiday special and get them the gift they really want. In general, the emphasis of the holidays has shifted to all the trappings and trimmings of gifts and lights.
However, amidst the increasing materialism of the holidays, some of the original holiday spirit remains around Thanksgiving. Compared to many of the other holidays at the end of the year, Thanksgiving remains a time where people return home to celebrate with their loved ones and contemplate what they’re thankful for. Despite its less than savory origins, Thanksgiving has developed into one of the more “pure” holidays. Spending time with friends I haven’t seen in months but also surrounded by my family was just the setting to remind me of all I’m thankful for. And that’s the power of the holidays—underneath all the wrapping and glowing lights is a heartwarming time to set aside all our worries, come together and remembered that there’s more to it than sales, Santa hats, and stocking stuffers.