Every year Thanksgiving dinners are made, and a few weeks later, families gather to celebrate Christmas. In the first one the center is a symbol that says we were foreigners once and have found a home. In the second the center is a star on a tree that tells that once upon a time someone came to make it possible for us to say thanks.
In the first one there is a mad scrambling to prepare the food and then pause for a lengthy prayer, while in the second; more time is needed to prepare food, shop, exchange gifts, and then open them.
There are a variety of ways to understand the importance of these two but the best way perhaps is to see it from the eyes of a child. When a little one looks at Thanksgiving and Christmas he sees differences as well as similarities. But at the end of the day it does not really matter much because he received what he came for: a heart to be filled with love and a stomach full of goodies.
You cannot fool a child by saying that Thanksgiving and Christmas are the same. This is because he will surely tell you that the two are different. He knows that it has something to do with time and seasons.
Thanksgiving he will say is synonymous to falling leaves, dry crusty leaves in the backyard, in the front yard and even inside your shoe if you let them come in. Christmas on the other hand is pure white. There is snow falling gently on the bare trees as if to provide a blanket to protect them from the cold.
On Thanksgiving day Mom is focused on perfecting the turkey while on Christmas she is focused on perfecting the tree and all that goes with it, the decorations as well as the gifts under it. She has a mental list a mile long and she constantly reminds herself not to give Uncle John and Grandpa the same gift as last year.
Thanksgiving, a little child will say, is all about God and his blessings. And in the same breath he will tell you that Christmas is all about Santa Claus and his gifts. He will also tell you with a twinkle in his eyes that for Thanksgiving the most anticipated time of the day is the evening when family and friends are gathered for dinner.
But for Christmas the most anticipated time of the day is sunrise, for no one was able to sleep thinking about the heap of presents under the beautiful tree. On Christmas Day the color red comes from the gift wrappings, on Thanksgiving Day the color red comes from the cranberry sauce.
On Thanksgiving Day a turkey or two can escape the chef’s terrible cut. Sometimes a politician can be seen on TV forgiving one and letting that turkey go. But on Christmas time no one heard of a pig saved from the chef’s knife, perhaps all of them are needed for the Christmas ham. All of these a child will tell you to be the reason why Thanksgiving and Christmas cannot be the same.
However, the same child will tell you that although there are differences between these two, there are also similarities that cannot be ignored. The first one is the busybodies that dart back and forth transforming a home into something like a beehive because of the energy and the determination to finish a task before deadline. Then there is also the sweet smell of cooked food that comes from the kitchen.
Thus, it does not matter what the season is, whether it is fall or winter as long as Thanksgiving and Christmas is in the air Mommy brings out the cooking utensils and buy the ingredients required because it is cooking time. He will also tell you that on Thanksgiving dinner he keeps hearing two words – calories and weight. Everyone seems guilty that they are eating good food.
The same thing happens during Christmas dinner, Aunt May keeps on talking about weight and calories while Uncle Roger tries to adjust his belt buckle, perhaps he wants to eat more but he is full.
When dinner time is near you can hear Mom’s voice get a little louder and the pitch a lit bit more discomforting but the child will say that it is alright, he knows it is either Thanksgiving or Christmas because Mom wants to get things done while the little ones want to laugh more and not spend time on the chores.
A child is also remembers with fondness Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day because it is a day without classes – no exams, no quizzes, time to bring out the game consoles and play until past bedtime. And finally the child will end the interview by saying that there are similarities between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is the happiness it brings.
There are different ways to try to understand Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is even a variety of ways to understand their meaning and significance by comparing and contrasting the two. But a better way perhaps is two see them from the eyes of a child. Even with their limited grasp they can already articulate that there are indeed major differences between these two occasions.
It has something to do with the time and seasons. It is something to do with the purpose why people celebrate Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day a few weeks apart.
There is therefore a difference between the type of food served and the time of the day that is most important for a child. Dinner time and opening gifts are two important things but there is a major difference in the values attached to both. There is therefore a difference in the kinds of activities. But at the same time a child will also tell you that there are similarities. Good food and the smiles on the faces of the people.
There is buoyancy in the air that can easily lift ones spirit even if the rest of the year it has been dragged down by problems and challenges. And finally the child will say that at the end of the day, whether it is Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day, it does not really matter for him because he had received what he came for: a heart to be filled up with love by family and friends and a stomach full of goodies.