Remember when Thanksgiving was a holiday? Remember when family and friends gave thanks over a big dinner and enjoyed the day together?
This year a confluence of events hijacked Thanksgiving. Panicked by Thanksgiving’s late November date leaving only 26 shopping days before Christmas, the retailers went into full Santa mode shortly after Halloween.
And why waste a perfectly good shopping day on family dinners? So stores opened, discounts abounded, sales people labored, cash registers jingled and 45 million Americans spent Thanksgiving Day shopping.
Did I say “Thanksgiving Day”? Heck, they even gave Thanksgiving a new name, “Gray Thursday,” to distinguish it from Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Then someone noticed that, this year, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day. So why not merge them into “Thanksgivukkah”? “Great idea,” said the media, and traditional Thanksgiving took another hit.
Then politics poisoned the celebration. President Obama and his political organization instructed their followers to pitch Obamacare over the holiday.
“Take advantage of downtime after meals or between holiday activities to start your talk. Start by asking, ‘Have you thought about signing up for health insurance on the new marketplace? When do you plan on signing up?’ Be persistent but keep it positive.” Right, and why not discuss abortion, capital punishment, gay marriage and gun control, too?
President Obama tweeted his 40 million followers, “Celebrating Thanksgiving. Lighting the Hanukkah candles. Talking about health insurance. Gotta love dinners like these.” Yes, but only if, after reading messages like his, you can keep your food down.
Regardless, we had an old-fashioned Thanksgiving during which I pondered the many things for which I am grateful.
• I’m thankful that I’m not a Washington Redskins season ticket holder.
• I’m thankful that, so far, my health insurance hasn’t been canceled by Obamacare.
• I’m thankful that the Virginia governor’s race is finally over so I don’t have to watch anymore TV attack ads for an election in which I can’t even vote.
• I’m thankful that the Maryland General Assembly only lasts 90 days.
• I’m thankful that I don’t party with NFL lineman Richie Incognito, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford or Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler.
• I’m thankful that I didn’t have to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday.
• I’m thankful that I can’t afford one of those $90,000 Tesla Model S battery-powered luxury cars that catches fire when running over something on the highway.
• I’m thankful that Gov. Martin O’Malley is term limited.
• I’m thankful that the federal government is reconsidering its decision to let airline passengers yap on their cellphones during flights.
• I’m thankful that I didn’t help design the Silver Spring Transit Center.
• I’m thankful that I didn’t bet on the Ravens to repeat.
• I’m thankful that gas prices have dropped 55 cents a gallon since February which helps offset Maryland’s 83 percent gas tax increase.
• I’m thankful that I don’t carpool or water ski with Del. Don Dwyer.
• I’m thankful for the Intercounty Connector, the only Montgomery highway on which you can use cruise control.
• I’m thankful that I don’t live near the new Maryland Live or Caesar’s Horseshoe casinos now that they have all-night gambling and drinking.
• I’m thankful that NSA (“The National Spy Agency”) is located here in Maryland so that when they eavesdrop on me it’s only a local call.
• I’m thankful that we’ve seen the last of those god-awful, downtown Baltimore, Labor Day Grand Prix races.
• I’m thankful that I’m not a member of any University of Maryland sports team next year when they play in the Big Ten.
• I’m thankful that after the governor and legislature bankrupted Maryland one hundred years ago, the voters passed a balanced budget amendment to the state constitution.
• I’m thankful that next year Maryland voters can make history by electing Anthony Brown, the state’s first Swiss-American governor.
• I’m thankful that the family that celebrated Thanksgiving at my house last Thursday wasn’t the Black Guerilla Family.
• I’m thankful for all the folks who read The Gazette every week and mail me their comments, compliments and complaints.
Blair Lee is chairman of the board of Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio.
His column appears Fridays in the Business Gazette. His past columns are available at www.gazette.net/blairlee. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.